2020, Elections, Voting — February 26, 2020 at 2:49 pm

FAQ:  Ballots and Voting 


Super Tuesday is coming up and so is the Michigan March 10th Presidential Primary Election!

Unvoted Absent Voter Ballot
Mail or drop off your absent voter ballot to your local clerk

What happens if my candidate dropped out of the race for president?

The list of candidates for the March 10th Presidential Primary was finalized on December 13, 2019 and ballots for this election went to print by mid-January.  If you see your candidate on your ballot, but know that they have decided not to run, it is not a mistake. Once the list was finalized and the withdrawal period passed, a candidate’s name could not be removed from the official listing.

If you have already voted for a candidate that has dropped out of the race and you still wish to vote for that candidate, there is nothing further you need to do.

If you have already voted for a candidate that has dropped out of the race and you wish to change your vote to another candidate, see the below answer regarding switching your vote.

Can I switch my vote?

Absolutely.  If you made an error on your ballot or wish to change your vote, you must submit your request in writing to your city or township clerk no later than 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, 2020 or appear in person at your local clerk’s office prior to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, March 9, 2020 to spoil (remove and replace) your voted absent voter ballot.  With less than two weeks until the election, the best way to do this is to visit your local clerk’s office and make this request in person. You will be handed a new ballot at that time and can take it home, or better yet, vote it and hand it back over to your clerk.  

Please note that state law requires local clerks to be open for 8 hours on the weekend prior to an election. You may contact your local clerk to find out when they will be open.

If you make an error on Election Day, when you are voting at the polls, you may simply contact an election inspector and ask to spoil your ballot, and you will be issued a new ballot to vote.

How to register to vote and still vote in the March 10th Presidential Primary Election?

Now that we are within two weeks of the Presidential Primary, you must register in person at your city or township clerk’s office. During this period, you must show a document that has your name and current address, which may be your driver’s license or State ID, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check, or other government document. A digital copy of the document is acceptable. After registering, you can vote an absent voter ballot at the clerk’s office or you can vote at your polling place on Election Day.

Is it too late to request an absent voter ballot?

Not yet,  and even when the regular deadlines have passed, there is still an option for an emergency absent voter ballot.  With that said, please do not wait. The most guaranteed way to ensure that you have your ballot with enough time to vote is to pick it up from your local clerk’s office directly.

When do absent voter ballots have to be returned to be counted?

In order for your absent voter ballot to be counted, it must be to your local clerk before polls close, which is at 8 p.m. on March 10.  Local clerks are required to hold office hours on the weekend before the election, so if you are still holding onto your ballot to decide who to vote for, have no fear.  Many local clerks also offer a drop box, outside of their office so you can even drop it off in the middle of the night, if you would like. 

Election results will be available as soon as polls close, right?

Nope.  Once polls close, and even once all ballots have been counted, there are numerous procedures that must be accomplished before results are transmitted. Depending on the County and the layers of security they employ, some results will take minutes, while others may take hours. In Ingham County, you can visit my website to get up-to-the-minute results as they become available.

Why are some clerks saying that election night results are likely going to be more delayed as a result of Proposal 2018-3, while other clerks say it is not a big deal?

Most larger municipalities have Absent Voter Counting Boards (AVCB), which operate as a standalone precinct for the processing of absent voter ballots, while other, smaller municipalities process absent voter ballots in the precinct, during slow voter traffic times.  Many municipalities are seeing significant increases in the number of absent voter ballots coming in and they are limited on how quickly they may process those ballots. Under current law, they may not open the absent voter ballot envelopes until the polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day. This means the poll workers then work in an assembly line to review and open the envelope, remove the ballot stub, remove the ballot from the secrecy envelope, flatten out the ballot, and feed the ballot through the tabulator in batches of multiple ballots.  

The thought, then, is to create additional AVCBs but there are constraints to that as well, as there would be a need to hire more election inspectors, something that is very difficult for clerks as they are always looking for more workers, assuming that they have the budget available to hire additional workers.  Then there would be a need for additional tabulators, and out of Michigan’s 83 counties, 65 currently use the same election equipment, Dominion. This is the same election vendor as the entire state of Georgia and, as a result, election tabulators that were ordered over a month ago are on backorder.    

In recent news, former Michigan Secretary of State and current State Senator Ruth Johnson’s proposed legislation to allow for early processing of absentee ballots has been amended, and I believe it is a good compromise.  It still does not allow for tabulation on the Monday before the Tuesday election, but does allow for processing (opening of envelopes, etc) on the day before. Unfortunately, this legislation may not pass, as State Senator Mike Shirkey was recently quoted as saying that “If I had to choose between early voting, early counting, versus late reporting, I’ll take late reporting all day long.”  

It is very unfortunate that he is taking the position of “I don’t necessarily think we should be trying to solve a problem before it actually occurs,” as I would hate for local and county clerks to be put in a similar position of those in Iowa as a result of his inaction.  Election officials have been sounding the alarm about the need for early processing of absentee ballots and without any concrete solutions, we are sure to see a delay in election night reporting of unofficial results.  Just yesterday, it was noted that Senator Shirkey noted that perhaps his mind could be changed.  

Are absentee votes even counted? Are they only counted if the race is close?

Every vote in Michigan is counted, no matter how close the race is, every time. Absentee ballots are no different.