GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The senator behind absentee voting legislation believes it was successful in impacting how ballots were processed in Tuesday’s election.
News 8 has previously talked to former Secretary of State and current state Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, about Public Act 177, which she introduced. The measure provided 10 hours of pre-processing time for absentee ballots in jurisdictions with at least 25,000 residents, allowed absent voting counting boards to work in shifts rather than sequester until the count was done and required voters be notified of a signature discrepancy during initial security checks if their ballot was returned prior to Election Day.
While clerks have expressed gratitude for the pre-processing time, many have said it wasn’t enough to make a huge difference in tabulating and adjudicating absentee ballots faster. The absent voter counting board in Grand Rapids spent nearly 36 hours getting through more than 59,000 ballots this week.
Additional legislation will be necessary to make the election changes permanent Michigan law because a sunset clause made Tuesday something of a trial run.
“For me, I think it’s a big winner,” Johnson told News 8 Friday afternoon. “The input I’m getting is that it’s been very successful. We’ll take testimony to hear what citizens think, the clerks think and they’ll vote on it. At this point, I’m thinking it was a great success.”
Johnson also acknowledged fraud allegations surrounding the state’s results. She served as Michigan’s secretary of state for eight years prior to Democrat Jocelyn Benson, of whom she has been critical for administrative actions like mailing absentee applications to Michiganders.
“I think that we have a great system and I think there have been some problems,” Johnson said. “Right now, there’s a number of allegations and they’ll go through the process like they always do, which is a really important process to see if they’re valid and if they are then how we deal with them. I think the vote tally difference is so substantial that even if we do find, which is never good, but even if we do find that there was some flaws or things not done right, it’s a tall mountain to climb to change the outcome.”
Like in previous interviews with News 8, the senator referred to election workers as patriots.
“I’m very proud of our 1,520 clerks. They deserve all the kudos and also the 30,000 precinct workers that are true patriots that conducted these elections during a very difficult time,” Johnson said. “The process will work. Democracy will prevail. We will as always have some people unhappy and have other people happy, but in the end that we will know exactly what happened and why and that is part of democracy. The masses get to decide.”