FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2023
Gov. Whitmer Signs Legislation Expanding Absentee Voting for Michigan Service Members Overseas
LANSING, Mich.—Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 259, bipartisan legislation ensuring that absentee voter ballots from military and overseas voters are counted if received up to six days after an election. Last year, Michiganders turned out in record numbers to approve Ballot Proposal 22-2, which expanded absentee voting for military and overseas voters. Senate Bill 259 brings Michigan Election Law up to date with the Michigan Constitution and helps ensure service members overseas can make their voices heard.
“Michigan’s service members are the best of us,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am proud to sign this legislation expanding absentee voter access to more service members bravely serving around the world. Let’s keep working to boost access to the ballot box and ensure election officials have the tools they need to run Michigan’s elections efficiently and effectively.”
“Our military personnel defend our democracy; we must defend their right to participate in our democracy. Senate Bill 259 ensures that ballots from active-duty service members and overseas voters will be counted,” said state Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield). “I’m honored to chair the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee and this bill is just the beginning of our work implementing the will of Michiganders who overwhelmingly supported Proposal 2 to improve access to voting.”
“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,” said state Senator Paul Wojno (D-Warren), bill sponsor. “The legislation also gives our dedicated election officials the tools they need to ensure our elections maintain the highest standards for transparency and integrity.”
Senate Bill 259 provides that if an absentee voter ballot return envelope containing a ballot cast by a military or overseas voter was postmarked on or before election day and was received by the voter’s city or township clerk within six days after the election, the ballot must be counted. City or township clerks forward all received absentee voter ballots from military or overseas voters to county clerks for tabulation at a county canvass board meeting. Senate Bill 259 also provides procedures if the postmark on the envelope is missing or unclear.
Boosting Access to the Ballot Box
Michigan’s elections are free, fair, secure, and accurate and the results reflect the will of the voters. The results are certified and audited by Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election officials.
In May 2022, Governor Whitmer signed executive directive 2022-04, instructing all state departments and agencies to identify and assess potential opportunities when engaging with Michiganders from all walks of life and all 83 counties to help eligible voters register and gain access to reliable information about voting, including displays in public spaces, printed materials, online information, public announcements, and social media posts. The executive directive can be viewed here.
In February, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bill 13, moving the state’s presidential primary to February and strengthening Michiganders’ votes and voices in the presidential primary.