On March 27, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-27 (the “EO”) temporarily suspending the rules and procedures related to the May 5, 2020 election. The goal of the temporary suspension is to (1) allow the election to be conducted by absentee ballot to the greatest extent possible and (2) to better enable jurisdictions to move ballot proposals to the August 4, 2020 election date.
Broadly, the EO accomplishes these goals by doing the following:
- Temporarily suspending strict compliance with the following portions of the Michigan Election Law, PA 116 of 1954, as amended: Chapter 28 – MCL 168.641 to 168.799a (conducting an election at a polling place) and Chapter 29 – MCL 168.801 to 168.813 (canvassing of the vote by inspectors of an election at a polling place).
- Requiring that each jurisdiction only maintain one location where an individual can appear in-person to receive and submit a ballot on election day.
- Encouraging online voter registration no later than April 20, 2020.
- Permitting in person voter registration as provided in Chapter 23 of the Michigan Election Law, PA 116 of 1954, as amended (MCL 168.491 – 168.530).
- Permitting clerks to accept copies of applications to register to vote and residency verifications by mail, email, or facsimile for purposes of registration and verification.
- Mandating that any application to register to vote that is properly submitted between March 27, 2020 at 7:03 pm and May 5, 2020 be considered a request for an absent voter ballot for the May 5, 2020 election.
- Temporarily suspending strict compliance with rules and procedures under section 646a of the Michigan Election Law, PA 116 of 1954, as amended (MCL 168.646a) for the limited purpose of permitting a political subdivision that has certified a ballot question for placement on the ballot on May 5, 2020 to withdraw the ballot question.
Municipalities and clerks that have a May 5, 2020 election should immediately begin preparing to conduct the election primarily by mail, and they are encouraged to work closely with the Michigan Secretary of State and their attorneys to ensure adherence to the EO and the facilitation of a lawful election.