Two Michigan state senators have introduced legislation to move Michigan’s August primary elections to June in order to give local clerks more time to handle post-election issues and procedures before heading into the November general election season.
The four-bill package would also eliminate the May elections, which consist mostly of local ballot proposals and are largely overlooked by voters. The state’s quadrennial presidential primary would remain on the March ballot.
“Our local clerks are under serious stress and face a significant workload in ensuring that we have fair, secure, and efficient elections,” said state Sen. Wojno, Paul Wojno of Warren. “Moving our elections to … June would give them more time to complete their pre- and post-election duties before the larger November elections.”
Wojno, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Elections Committee, co-authored the package along with Senate President Pro Tem Aric Nesbitt, a Republican from Lawton in the southwest portion of the state. The debate over the bill will be tackled by the election committee, which is chaired by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, a former Michigan secretary of state.
According to The Detroit News, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson praised the legislation as a “common sense reform” that deserves wide support. “Consolidating the May and August elections into one June election will save taxpayer dollars and meet a longtime request of clerks to be allowed to operate more efficiently,” Benson said.
The August primary serves as the nominating process for Democrats and Republicans in races ranging from governor to seats in the Legislature to county offices. The change to a June primary would also apply in odd-numbered, off-year elections for municipal posts.
By spacing out the election calendar local clerks would have more time to prepare absentee ballots between the primary and general elections. The revised timetable would also allow courts to hear cases on delays, recounts, or challenges leading up to the November general election.
Currently, 22 states and Washington D.C. hold either a state primary or a presidential primary in June.