Defending democracy in Michigan during coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – State officials are looking for election workers to support elections during the coronavirus crisis.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson needs election workers to count ballots and help at clerk offices during the local elections on May 5th.

“Elections are the foundation of our democracy, and our nation has a long history of holding them even in times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Benson in a written statement. “All election work will be done in strict adherence to the protocols to prevent coronavirus transmission, including exercising social distancing, using sanitary equipment, and maintaining strong hygiene.”

Many elections workers were seniors and are not willing to do so in May because of the increased risks to coronavirus. State officials are looking to fill the places with younger and less at-risk workers by reaching out to large employers, colleges, and sports teams.

“Democracy is a team sport, and election workers are the most valuable players,” said Benson, a reference to the website where people can fill out an interest form to serve, Michigan.gov/DemocracyMVP.

All registered voters are eligible to serve as election workers statewide, anyone who is not registered can register online. Anyone appointed to work for the election will be paid for their time.

Many local elections were moved to August, but some could not because funding would expire this summer.

Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that closes all but one polling place in each election jurisdiction.

The Department of State will mail absentee ballot applications to all registered and newly registered voters to encourage everyone who can to stay home and vote by mail.

Clerk offices will remain open through Election Day, enabling same-day voter registration and voting in person, including for people with disabilities who wish to vote using assistive equipment, and others to drop off their ballots if they forget to mail it in time.

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