Genesee County clerk weighs in on proposed absentee ballot count changes

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (03/13/19) -- Some changes could soon be coming to the way absentee ballots are counted in Michigan. Among them, a proposal allowing the ballots to be counted four days before Election Day.

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason is not on board.

"I think it's very relevant to ask how you are going to keep that ballot secret from Friday night to Tuesday night," Gleason said.

Gleason says he's concerned because in that time frame, a lot can happen especially when it comes to certain races.

"We have volunteers that are filling in the ballots, av ballots for candidates, I think this really encourages that."

Gleason says any time a mandate is put on local government, two things need to happen.

"There should be a means, first of all to secure that program so it isn't infiltrated with non-compliant activity and the second thing you need to offer is financing."

And that's for many of the state's smaller municipalities where more resources would need to be devoted to count the ballots.
Gleason, does though agree the state's new voting law which allows people to vote absentee for any reason and register on election day is a good thing.

"I don't think you're going to see an increase in voters. I think you're only going to see an increase in absentee voting."

He also agrees that Michigan should join other states in counting ballots that are postmarked on or before election day, something the secretary of state is also proposing.

"You have to put your tax returns in the mail on April 15th, if it's postmarked April 15th, even at midnight, the IRS will accept the document; there's no reason why we don't follow that same example with the vote."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson plans to soon announce steps her department will take on disclosure, ethics and transparency.

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