Jessica Mathews /

Green Oak Township officials are among those voicing concerns with changes to Michigan’s presidential primary election - amid challenges already presented with the implementation of Proposal 2.

Michigan House Democrats voted last week to move the state’s presidential primary to the fourth week of February and become a part of a new group of states slated to lead off the Democratic party’s presidential primary starting next year. The move, which was approved by the state Senate along party lines last Thursday, comes after a Democratic National Committee panel voted last month to approve a plan that would make Michigan the fifth state to hold its presidential primary in early 2024, and potentially, in years to come.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the legislation that moves Michigan's presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to February 27th, 2024, and to the fourth Tuesday in February for future presidential primaries. However the bill is not scheduled to take effect until 90 days after the end of the session — leaving questions about how it will be implemented for 2024. The Legislature typically adjourns in December but would need to finish by November 29th for the bill to apply to the 2024 presidential primary.

Democratic leaders in the state have said that the move will give Michigan an increased voice in national politics and drive more attention to the battleground state. Michigan must still get votes from the full DNC to become an early primary state.

House Republicans argued that the move could cost the state party nearly all of its delegates in 2024 after the Republican National Committee set an early primary calendar that does not include Michigan. Lawmakers have said there will likely be pressure for the RNC to get behind an early primary in Michigan in 2024.

At a recent board meeting, Green Oak Township Clerk Mike Sedlak voiced concerns about each party hosting separate primaries within weeks of each other. He said the logistics, the costs, and the “insanity” of it are beyond comprehension – adding “it’s party politics all the way”. He told WHMI the Board does not want to incur the cost of having two separate primary elections and the hope is that lawmakers will come together and select one day to make it easier for not only voters but those running the elections. Sedlak noted many are opposed to the prospect, including the Michigan Township Association.

Supervisor Mark St. Charles commented the bottom line is that no political party is paying to hold the elections and the township “is left holding the bag”. He stated they’ve already had to increase the Election Department budget by almost $200,000 following the passage of Proposal 2 last November – a constitutional amendment that expanded voting rights.

Sedlak said something like this could cost them another $100,000 and he encouraged people to contact their state legislators to express their views and concerns.

Meanwhile with the implementation of Proposal 2, Sedlak said as far as they know, there is not any funding or grants coming from the state. Because it was not an unfunded mandate, he said the township will have to bear the brunt of it.

Some of the requirements to be implemented include nine days of early voting, state-funded postage for absentee ballots and applications, allow voters to register for absentee ballots for all future elections, require military and overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day, and require ballot drop boxes for every 15,000 voters in a municipality.

Sedlak concluded that “it’s going to be very challenging, to say the least”.