GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday’s primary elections are among the last before a huge rewrite of Michigan’s laws.

Proposal 2, passed by voters last November, will lead to sweeping changes to our elections. The Legislature implemented the new rules in late July.

“I think our voters don’t really know about all of these changes,” Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck told News 8. “It’s gonna be important for us to advocate and make sure our voters understand their options and participate however they choose to participate.”

None of the bills putting Proposal 2 in place got enough GOP support to take immediate effect. They are expected to go into effect 91 days after the Legislature adjourns, which is typically in December. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she believes Michigan’s presidential primary will be Feb. 27, which would be the first election under the changes.

The most notable difference is nearly a month of early voting for some communities, Roebuck said. By law, early voting sites have to be open for at least nine consecutive days before the election and up to 29 days.

Ottawa County is collaborating with cities to potentially create four centers across the county so people can vote early wherever they are. The locations would be open for the minimum nine days of early voting, Roebuck said.

The team is looking at sites in Georgetown Township/Hudsonville, Holland, Grand Haven Township and a rural location in the northern part of Ottawa County.

“It’s a convenient location,” Roebuck said. “It’s generally a larger facility, it’s close to a highway where you get on an office, you’re going to work, or maybe next to a Costco, or something that’s convenient to voters.”

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners still has to approve that plan. The board’s finance committee is set to consider the proposal on Sept. 5 and the larger board will do so on Sept. 12.

The Michigan Legislature has appropriated $24 million to help clerks handle early voting. While Roebuck said clerks are grateful for the help, it’s realistically not enough.

“I do think we need more recognition from our state and local leadership to say this is an investment that has to be made in order for us to accomplish and do it well,” Roebuck said. “We need human resources and we need the human capital to administer a process that is pretty expansive when you think about changing how our elections are done from one day to nine days in eight-hour shifts. We’re going to be experiencing a lot of change.”

Roebuck said the additional workload for early voting supplements their preexisting responsibilities, including preparing polling locations, training staff and helping voters who experience registration issues or have trouble applying for absentee ballots.

He said more funding could help clerks get more staff and rent facilities to securely store ballots and tabulators off-site during early voting. The funding could also help municipalities purchase necessary voting equipment, Roebuck said.

“We need new additional voting tabulators for every early voting site and sometimes more than one,” he said. “So we can’t use the same equipment for early voting that we use in the precincts on Election Day.”

Under the new law, cities and townships with at least 5,000 people will be able to process and tabulate ballots up to eight days before the election. That was a change that clerks pushed for.

“It’s really important to have that time,” Roebuck said. “I think a lot of communities are gonna take advantage of the ability to make sure they can plan as far ahead as they can, but (it) also opens up the process and allows for better access.”

The results cannot be reported or generated before polls close. The process will be open to the public, which Roebuck says will be easier to watch.

“They’re looking at something at 10 o’clock in the morning on a Monday instead of late into the wee hours of Wednesday morning following the close of polls on election (night) as ballots are still being cast and tabulated,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be a more transparent way to do this work.”

The new law also expands drop boxes, requiring municipalities to have at least one drop box per 15,000 voters to drop off absentee ballots. They will be monitored by video during the 75 days leading up to an election and on Election Day.

“I think that’s a great convenience option, but we also have security requirements on those drop boxes,” Roebuck said. “Voters can be assured that when they’re placing a ballot in a drop box that it’s under video surveillance, that it’s monitored, that it’s checked on a regular basis.”

Soon, voters will only need to submit one application to receive absentee ballots for all future elections. The state will also set up an electronic ballot tracking system to follow applications for absentee ballots.

Roebuck said he’s “really excited” about what’s to come.

“We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead, but I think if we have the right resources we’re gonna be able to do this really well for our voters,” he said.