Houghton County Clerk responds to absentee ballot application concerns

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN/AP) – Absentee ballot applications were mailed to all 7.7 million registered voters in Michigan ahead of the August primary and November general elections.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, announced the move as part of the state’s efforts to confront the coronavirus pandemic. The $4.5 million dollar cost will be covered by federal coronavirus relief funding.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said in a statement. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”

>>PDF: Michigan Absent Voter Ballot Application

In release sent on Wednesday, Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly said some voters are confused and angry about the absentee ballot application.

Below is the statement from County Clerk Kelly to address those concerns:

Proposal 3 that was passed by Michigan voters in 2018, gives every Michigan registered voter the right to vote by absentee ballot “without reason”.  Due to Covid-19, the Secretary of State decided to send out the mass mailing to registered voters NOT on the permanent absentee list.  The city and township Clerks in Houghton County will always mail the absentee voter applications to anyone on their permanent absentee list. 

Voters do NOT have to use these absentee ballot applications.  Voters are simply encouraged to vote absentee because of Covid-19.  Absentee voting avoids contact at the polls with other voters and election workers.

I have received complaints and have heard that people are upset over the receiving of the absentee ballot applications for many reasons, and do not wish to vote by absentee ballots.  As of today, May 27th, the Michigan Bureau of Elections expects the August 4th state primary to be conducted under the regular requirements of Michigan Election Law including the opening of in-person voting precincts.  Therefore, our polls should be open for voting in August and November.

In May 2020, Schoolcraft Twp had the first absentee ballot election for the Village of Lake Linden.  This was the result of an Executive Order issued by Governor Whitmer, which suspended sections of Michigan election law allowing us to conduct the election primarily by mail with limited in-person voting options.  All voters had to vote by absentee ballot.  There were 219 total ballots cast.  Only 3 voters went to the polls on Election Day and those voters still had to vote by absentee ballot.  216 voted by absentee ballots through the mail or delivered their ballot to the Schoolcraft Township Clerk.

For those voters completing an absentee ballot application for the 2 remaining 2020 elections, please make sure you are checking the appropriate box for the election OR elections you wish to vote absentee.  Applications are currently being returned to the voters by the clerks due to errors.  The Clerks must know which election the voter wants to vote by absentee ballot.  Anyone needing assistance for absentee voting is asked to contact myself or their city or township clerk.  Thank you!

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