House Elections chair has concerns with SOS acting without authority
State Rep. Julie Calley today said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office overstepped when it reportedly mailed absentee ballot applications to registered voters throughout the state earlier this week – especially considering Benson had previously issued guidance giving school districts and communities until today to withdraw ballot proposals from the May ballot.
Calley, chair of the House Elections Committee, said legislators have been contacted by local clerks with concerns after the Secretary of State mailed absent voter ballot applications with pre-paid return envelopes to all the registered voters in their municipalities, regardless of whether the voter had requested such an application. She said this is an unprecedented action taken by the Secretary of State without informing local clerks, who are typically the ones tasked with mailing applications at the request of voters.
“The Secretary of State is making decisions that waste taxpayer dollars and create unnecessary confusion for voters and clerks,” Calley said. “Secretary Benson seems to be proceeding as though we’re going to have an all-mail May election, a decision that has not been made yet and one she does not have the authority to make. Many have questioned whether she has the legal authority to send AV applications to all the voters in the state.
“At the very least, the Secretary of State’s actions are premature. She mailed applications to people in jurisdictions that may very well decide to take the initiatives off their May ballots and push them back to August or November.”
Calley said local clerks are concerned about the lack of communication from the Secretary of State’s office about the applications it mailed. She said if the governor is going to issue an executive order related to the May election, she hopes it is done soon.
“Clerks throughout Michigan are in desperate need of clarification,” Calley said. “They need to know whether to proceed with the May election as normal, prepare for a mail-in only election, or if they should expect the May election to be postponed.”