All registered voters in Michigan will automatically receive a vote-by-mail application for the August and November elections. Liz Fredendall
Voting by mail isn’t a new concept, but with concerns about exposure to COVID-19 not relenting any time soon, many voters are looking toward an alternative to in-person voting as a way to participate in the upcoming elections.
A recent national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 70% of people polled support giving voters the option to cast their ballots by mail.
Michigan Proposal 3, which was passed in 2018, allows for same-day voter registration and states that all Michigan residents have the right to vote through an Absent Voter (AV) Ballot Application without needing to provide a reason.
How to vote absentee
All registered voters in Michigan will automatically receive a vote-by-mail application for the August and November elections. The application includes an option to be permanently added to the absentee voter list. To register to vote or update your voter registration address, visit mvic.sos.state.mi.us/RegisterVoter.
AV ballot applications are available at the City Clerk’s office located at 320 W. Broadway Street in Mt. Pleasant or can be downloaded online at Michigan.gov/vote. For a full list on how to request an absent voter ballet from the City Clerk’s office, visit mpcityblog.com/2020/07/06/absentee-voting-option-now-available-to-all-registered-voters-2.
Voters can return applications in-person or by mail to the City Clerk’s office, in the drop box located in the parking lot outside of City Hall, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Absentee voter ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, August 4). Ballots may be returned to the drop box outside of City Hall or in-person at the City Clerk’s office. Ballots sent via postal service should be mailed a week prior to allow for sufficient delivery time.
Voters can return AV ballot applications in-person or by mail to the City Clerk’s office, in the drop box located in the parking lot outside of City Hall, or via email.
Safeguarding against voter fraud
While there is widespread support for embracing vote-by-mail, some have concerns that it will increase voter fraud.
Jeremy Howard, city clerk and risk manager for the City of Mt. Pleasant, says voter fraud is something that election officials take seriously. As such, they have many protections in place to prevent fraud from happening.
“It starts with testing of each tabulator voting machine and its programming,” says Howard. “The testing takes place several weeks before the election and the machines are then sealed to maintain security. At no time are the machines themselves ever connected to the internet.”
As for AV applications and ballots, Howard says that when the office receives an AV application, the voter’s signature on the AV application is compared to the signature that is on file with the Secretary of State (SOS) database. If the signature matches, a ballot is sent to the address. When the ballot returns, the signature is again compared to the SOS database. If there is no signature or if the signatures do not match, the ballot cannot be counted.
Polls will be open for in-person voting on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling locations will be exercising safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and city officials are reminding voters that absentee voting is the safest option at this time. To find your polling location, visit https://www.isabellacounty.org/departments/county-clerk/voting-polling/.
In-person absentee voting is available at the City Clerk’s office now through Monday, August 3 until 4 p.m. and on Saturday, August 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
I-Ride is offering free rides to and from polling locations on Election Day to those without transportation. To schedule a ride, call (989) 772-9441.
For additional questions, contact the City Clerk’s office at (989) 779-5361.