Absentee voting 101: What you need to know as absentee ballots arrive

Absentee voting 101: What you need to know as absentee ballots arrive
Posted at 1:47 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 13:47:31-04

Starting Thursday, voters who requested an absentee ballot will begin to receive them in the mail after the first military and overseas ballots were mailed out Saturday.

RELATED: First absentee ballots sent to Michigan military & overseas voters

“It's never been easier to participate in elections in Michigan than it is right now,” said Macomb County Clerk Fred Miller.

With voters now able to vote absentee for any reason, requests are pouring in. As of last week, more than 2.2 million Michigan voters have requested a ballot in the mail. That's compared to just over 500,000 at the same time last year, as cities and towns across metro Detroit handle the demand.

“Clerks will find a way to get in front of this," Miller said. "I don't want to say there are no concerns because this is a lot, this is going to be potentially a record breaking turnout year.”

While absentee ballots can be requested up until Friday before the election, clerks recommend getting your ballot as soon as possible, especially with large demand.

"In August we set a record, and I would not be surprised if we set a record in November as well for turnout," said Oakland County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Brown. “It's a lot more work but our clerks will plow through it and make sure everyone gets their ballot,”

If you’re worried about using the mail, you can always drop your ballot off at your local clerk's office or a local ballot drop box. You can also check the status of your ballot online, so you know for sure when it’s received.

Also make sure to use blue or black ink, and sign your ballot.

"That is something that is checked," Brown said of the signature. "If your name isn’t on that, your vote won’t be tabulated.”

If you make a mistake or even if you change your mind before Election Day, you can contact your clerk to void your first ballot and request a new one. You can do this even after you send it back

“That's why there's no harm in returning your ballot sooner rather than later," Brown said. "If you change your mind, you can always get another ballot.”

With 42 days until the election, voting is already underway as clerks work around the clock to make sure everyone has their voice heard.

"We always think about election day, but really this is a window of voting that starts Thursday and goes all the way to Nov. 3rd,” Miller said.

If using the mail, it’s recommended you send your ballot back by Oct. 20. If you choose to take advantage of a drop box, make sure you do so in the city or township where you’re registered.