Michigan is being sued by the federal government for failing to send out absentee ballots on time. The Secretary of State's office says at least 70 local clerks missed the June deadline to mail primary ballots to military personnel and other voters overseas, including Cross Village, the City of Manistee, and East Bay Township.
The federal government wants clerks to count ballots that arrive after next Tuesday's primary election.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says the U.S. Department of Justice has filed the lawsuit, but state officials haven't seen the complaint yet. Gisgie Gendreau says Johnson’s office sent three reminders to the state's 1,500 clerks to get the absentee ballots out on time.
“The deadline fell on a Saturday,” Gendreau says. “What we're hearing is that some of these clerks mailed out or emailed out the ballots that following Monday or Tuesday.”
Gendreau says it is a crime for a clerk to willfully fail to perform a requirement of election law or ignore an order from the Secretary of State.
More than 200 clerks did not immediately respond the state's request for reports on how the ballots were handled. A federal judge in Grand Rapids has scheduled an emergency hearing for Friday.