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Senate GOP leader now “open” to changes on absentee ballot counting

absentee ballot in envelope
Nadya Peek
Flickr CC BY 2.0

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) has moved from his position opposing new ruleson how to count absentee ballots on election night. Shirkey is now open to allowing early processing of mailed-in ballots that would speed up counting. That’s according to his Press Secretary Amber McCann.

But she says that does not mean Shirkey has made up his mind.

“He’s not sure yet," McCann said. "He wants to hear from the bill sponsor and learn better from her experience why this would be a valuable change and why this would be positive for Michigan.”

The bill sponsor is Republican state Senator Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), who served as Michigan Secretary of State from 2011 to 2019. She is also a former Oakland County Clerk. Some local clerks are concerned about Michigan’s new law that makes it easier for people to vote absentee. They’re worried it will slow down vote counting on election night.

McCann says Shirkey is also not sure any changes need to be adopted before Michigan’s March 10 presidential primary.

“He’s not committed to a timeline, and it’s possible these changes might not be in place prior to March 10th. But he is having active discussions about the value of these changes,” she said.

Absentee ballots cannot be counted until the polls open at 7:00 a.m.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that absentee ballots couldn't be counted until polls close at 8:00 p.m. That is incorrect. Processing can begin when the polls open. The story has been corrected above.

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