“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” — Marian Wright Edelman, American activist.
Nov. 3 is fast approaching. In anticipation of this unprecedented election, Erica Amstrong, the City of Midland’s City Clerk, hosted a video answering the most commonly asked questions received by the Midland City Clerk’s office. You can read a transcript of the video below. More information on voting can be found at the City of Midland's website or at Michigan.gov/vote.
Q: I want to vote by absentee ballot, but I’ve heard it won’t be counted if my signatures don’t match. Is this true?
While it’s true that your signature must match your application signature and the one that we have on file, but that doesn’t mean that your vote won’t be counted. We compare your signature and if they don’t match, we contact you immediately so we can rectify it before Election Day and count your ballot.
Q: I heard about someone having to remove hats or cover up shirts while visiting the Clerk’s office. Is this allowed and why?
Michigan election law prohibits displaying campaign-related materials at the polls and has done so for decades. This includes your clothing, buttons, face masks, pamphlets, fliers, stickers – anything that’s promoting a political party, a candidate or a ballot initiative. Because the City Clerk’s office is located inside City Hall, we’re a polling location leading up to and on election day. So please leave these items at home or you’ll be asked to remove them.
Q: I don’t trust the mail to return my absentee ballot. How can I get the ballot to you instead?
Our City Clerk’s office does have a great relationship with the local post office, but we understand if you have decided that you want to return it another way. We have a few other options available. There’s a dropbox that’s available 24/7 outside of the Larkin Street entrance to City Hall. It’s the entrance that shares the parking lot with the [First United] Methodist Church.
If you are going to be in City Hall, we also have a dropbox in the lobby that’s available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Or, you can walk it up to the Clerk’s desk and hand it to one of us personally.
Q: I have moved since the last election. Is there anything else I need to do to be ready to vote?
If you’ve changed your address since you last voted, or you moved more than 60 days before the upcoming election, you’ll need to re-register to vote with your new address. You can do this online at Michigan.gov/vote. You can [also] do it in-person at my office.
[…] If it’s less than 15 days before the election, just come visit me in my office with your voter registration form and residency verification and we’ll get you registered. Remember, if you moved, your polling location may also have changed. You want to plan to vote in person by going to Michigan.gov/vote to find your updated information.
Q: I sealed my absentee ballot but forgot to put it in the yellow secrecy sleeve. Do I need a new ballot?
No, you don’t need a new ballot. If you’ve already voted your ballot and sealed it inside the green envelope, but you forgot to put your secrecy sleeve in, don’t worry. Your vote is still valid. On Election Day when we open the green envelopes, we’ll simply place your ballot inside of a secrecy sleeve before continuing the process.
One thing you don’t want to do though is if you’ve already sealed it, you don’t want to rip the ballot open. That can look like somebody tampered with the ballot. If you’ve already done this, contact the City Clerk’s office and we’ll be happy to help you fix the problem.
Q: Should I wait until Election Day to return my absentee ballot or can I return it now?
You can do that now. The earlier you return the ballot, the better – for you, and for us. That means that we can check in, verify, and get your ballot ready to be counted on election day. This also can mean faster election results and a lot less worrying for you. So, return it as soon as possible.
Q: I requested and received an absentee ballot, but now I don’t want to use it. Can I just vote at the polls instead?
Voters who are issued an absentee ballot can still vote at the polls if they’ve changed their mind, but it does require a process to ensure that your vote has not already been cast. This process takes time at the polls, and if a significant number of voters do it, it can create some lines. It also wastes ballots, so we really encourage you to use the ballot that you already have.