Communities across Michigan will see a record-breaking number of absentee ballots cast for the 2020 presidential elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping an increased number of voters away from the polls.
Last week local clerks began sending out absentee ballots to registered voters for the August primary election, about one month after the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office announced that it would be sending absentee ballots applications to all 7.7 registered voters in the state for the upcoming elections.
As of Tuesday, 168,820 absentee ballots had been issued in Oakland County, an increase of 118,399 ballots compared to June 2016, according to data compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office. Statewide, ballots issued totaled 1,005,989, an increase of 722,258 ballots compared to June 2016, with 14 communities having received at least 15,000 absentee ballot requests.
Those communities include Detroit (63,803), Grand Rapids (25,266), Sterling Heights (20,215), Ann Arbor (20,039), Warren (19,380), Clinton Township (18,639), Livonia (18,097), Lansing (17,905), Canton Township (17,586), Farmington Hills (17,493), Macomb Township (16,550), Rochester Hills (15,359), West Bloomfield Township (15,160) and Troy (15,034).
At one point, Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton said her office was receiving 500 to 1,000 absentee ballot applications per day from residents. To date, the city has issued over 15,000 absentee ballots.
Barton said the vast majority of the 15,359 absentee ballot applications received have asked for ballots for both the August primary and November general elections. She began sending out absentee ballots on Thursday, June 25.
Additional part-time election workers have been hired in Rochester Hills to process the absentee ballot applications coming in daily while full-time staff focuses on getting ballots mailed out to voters.
Farmington Hills Clerk Pamela Smith said her community has already seen a record-breaking number of absentee ballot requests, which has surpassed all other elections. To date, the city has received over 17,500 absentee ballots applications, the highest number in the county and tenth-highest in the state.
To prepare for this influx, Smith said she plans on doubling the size of the city’s absent voter counting board, from 6 teams to 12 teams, which processes and counts the absentee ballots on Election Day. She has also hired part-time workers to help issue ballots.
“For the August primary, we have received about 2,000 more absentee ballot applications than the number of total ballots we actually issued in November 2016,” she said.
Under state law, clerks and election workers are allowed to begin processing and counting absentee ballots beginning at 7 a.m. on Election Day. Since the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, which made no-reason absentee voting law, clerks have been pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow for more time to process absentee ballots.
Over the past year, many communities have seen a significant influx in the number absentee ballots both requested and issued, which has prompted the purchasing of more equipment, such as high-speed tabulators, and the hiring of more election workers to process and count the increased number of absentee ballots while also helping residents with Election Day voter registrations, also made law under Proposal 3.
source: guide and press