Absentee voting expanded in Michigan for military service members overseas

Absentee voter ballots filed by residents overseas and members of the military will be counted if received up to six days after an election, according to a newly-signed law.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer put her signature to the latest election bill to move through the Michigan legislature, signing SB 259 into office Monday. 

The bill brings Michigan's election law up to date with the state's constitution, which was amended last year after voters passed a ballot measure that expanded absentee voting. 

If an absentee voter ballot is received by the voter's city or township clerk within six days of the election, and the return envelope its sealed within is postmarked on or before election day, then the ballot must be counted.

The bill had bipartisan support in both chambers, passing the state House 56-52 and the state Senate 23-14 during late April sessions. The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren) said the legislation "ensures our elections maintain the highest standards for transparency and integrity."

"As a former municipal clerk and member of the Senate Election Committee, I am pleased that this legislation was passed with bipartisan support to give our servicemen and women the peace of mind that when they are deployed in defense of our nation their ballot will be counted," he said.

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In addition to extra time for military and overseas voters, the proposal also required nine days of early voting, ballot drop boxes for every 15,000 voters in a municipality and state-funded postage for absentee applications and ballots.

According to a U.S. Election Assistance Commission report following the 2020 presidential election, 4.6% of Michigan military and overseas ballots were rejected compared to less than 1% of all absentee ballots. A total of 21,464 military and overseas ballots were counted in Michigan in the last presidential election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.