With the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, and 2020 being a Presidential Election Year, there has been increased attention on absentee voting, and, as a result, there are more questions from those first-time and seasoned voters as well as from campaigns and the media.
First, the envelopes that absentee ballots, directions, return envelopes and secrecy sleeves have changed so no longer should voters be keeping an eye out for the brown envelope a but rather a blue and white envelope. Many local clerks have been trying to get the word out to their voters so that they are prepared. To make things even more confusing, I have noticed, however, that some local clerks are using the old-style envelopes, something that the Michigan Bureau of Elections does not recommend.
Last week, it had been reported that some voters who attempted to mail their voted absentee ballots to their local clerk had received their ballot returned as a “Return to Sender.”
This could be the result of a number of issues, but the two most likely reasons are that the USPS made an error as there are new envelopes and uniformity is difficult to achieve among Post Offices, or perhaps not enough postage was placed on the return envelope (it takes two stamps, not just one). The Michigan Bureau of Elections has met with the U.S. Postal Service to improve and streamline this process. Should you encounter any problems with the U.S. Postal Service relating to your ballot, please do not hesitate to contact your local or County Clerk.
If you are looking for peace of mind that your ballot has arrived safely at your local clerk’s office, you can check the status of your absentee ballot by visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center, at www.michigan.gov/vote
Remember, if you are concerned with the U.S. Postal Service handling your ballot, you can always drop off your completed ballot in person at your local clerk’s office. In fact, many local clerks have drop boxes outside of their office for this very reason. Your local clerk will also have posted business hours and are required to be open for 8 hours on the weekend before Election Day. You can contact them to find out when they will be open. If you don’t know how to reach your local clerk, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center, enter your information and click on the ‘Local Clerk’ tab.
If you are waiting to vote your ballot to make sure your desired candidate remains actively running for president, you are not alone. You may always spoil your ballot for any reason, including if your preferred candidate dropped out of the race, in person, at your local clerk’s office up until 4pm the Monday before the election.
If you need to spoil your completed ballot, you can simply go to your local clerk’s office and let them know. They will void your previously completed ballot and issue you a new one. If you do need spoil your ballot and have a new ballot mailed to you, you must do so by 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election. As always, ballots must be returned to the local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order for it to be counted.
If I may ever be of assistance, please feel free to contact me at 517-676-7201 or via email at [email protected].