Area State Representative Julie Calley thinks she has at least part of the answer to helping small communities handle the expected huge increase in absentee ballot issues this year. Republican Calley represents sections of Barry and Ionia counties.  Her legislation, designed to make it easier for small towns to process absentee ballots was recently signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  Calley’s plan allows absentee ballots to be processed one of two ways, at each precinct or by an absent voter counting board. When they are processed in the precinct, election workers typically feed absentee ballots into the voting machines during lulls or after polls close. By contrast, AV counting boards focus solely on processing absentee ballots all day long. Today’s primary may only be a low-level test since not much time has passed since the legislation was approved. Not enough time for many local boards to get established,

While AV counting boards were previously allowed, communities were only allowed to complete the process on their own. The new law spearheaded by Calley allows local governments to team up with other nearby communities or the county to establish an AV counting board. Calley says “This will give small communities – which may not have the workers or equipment needed to have their own AV counting board – the opportunity to pool their resources with a local jurisdiction if they so choose.”  Republican Calley notes that workers on AV counting boards must be properly trained and are required to sign an oath not to reveal vote tallies until after polls close. Additionally, counting boards must have election inspectors representing both parties, just as polling places do.

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