Voters unable to vote in person at their precinct on Nov. 7 can get an absentee ballot but they will have to apply in advance. Nov. 6 will be the last day to vote with an absentee ballot in person.
Some people call it early voting, which is kind of true, said East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks. In Michigan, absentee voting is permissible if you meet one of the following criteria:
- I am 60 years of age or older.
- am physically unable to attend the polls without assistance.
- I am an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than where I live.
- I expect to be absent from the community for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day.
- I cannot get to the polls because of my religion.
- I cannot get to the polls because I am in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.
“If you meet one of those criteria and are not able to make it to a polling location that day in person you are able to obtain a ballot in advance,” said Wicks. “Receiving a ballot takes about five minutes in person or you can fill out the application form by mail.”
“Fill out the application, sign it, and show a form of ID and you’re good to vote absentee”
“There’s a big push right now to not claim a reason to vote absentee,” said Wicks. “Sometimes people assume that you can just walk up and ask for a ballot, we don’t just hand them out.”
Absentee ballots are given for and counted in the precinct where the voter is registered.
“People that say, ‘I don’t trust elections,’ “I don’t trust that you’re not just throwing my ballot away,’” said Wicks. “Well, guess what? You can track it.”
Every voter is connected to their ballot and can trace it through a program called the Qualified Voter File, a database shared with the Bureau of Elections and the Secretary of State.
Marie Wicks joined Tyler VanHuyse, ASMSU vice president of Governmental Affairs, registering students to vote on campus.
VanHuyse said Michigan Voter registration laws are conservative in the sense that it’s harder in this state to register to vote or to vote for the first time.
“I’d hate to see a student wait in line for a half hour and need to leave for class,” said Wicks. “I personally believe that should be one the excuses on the absentee ballot application.”
“It’s ideal we get students the ability to vote by mail, especially if they’re not going to be home,” VanHuyse said. “The odds are stacked against us for sure.” Students who are registered in another city can apply for absentee ballots to vote there. The deadline to transfer to another voting location was Oct. 10.
VanHuyse and the ASMSU team do different events around campus to inform students and increase voting. This year they experimented by providing 6,000 students with voter registration forms and stamped envelopes in hopes that they would fill them out and return it. They also run an online application called Turbovote that walks students through the registration process.
Wicks said students were astonished by how easy it was to register to vote.
“So many of them said, ‘That’s it? That’s all you need from me?’” said Wicks. “I would personally like to see all mail-in voting. It would save a lot of money for us and be more efficient.”