The consolidation of precincts
The Bureau of Elections offered the option of consolidating two precincts into one to allow for the creation of an AV Counting Board. The consolidation would free up one of the tabulators to be able to have an AV Counting Board at no cost.
City Clerk of Williamston Holly Thompson also mentioned how a mass mailing was sent out to citizens of Williamston, offering the option to be placed on a permanent AV list to “vote from home” which, she added, has been positively received by the community.
“I do feel the option of ‘no reason AV voting’ will increase voting participation by reminding voters there is an upcoming election and getting the ballots directly into their hands,” Thompson said when asked if voting participation will change. With people living very busy lives, voting from home ensures one to have plenty of time to vote and get in the ballot before the deadline.
Proposal 18-3 allowed anyone to vote no matter the reason.
The impact on local residents
Even from a non-elected officials’ point of view, the ballots are a big deal. Residents of Williamston also think that this addition can be great for the community.
“I’m an adamant believer in everybody exercising their democratic rights,” said Connor Porrell, a local resident of Williamston, when asked about the effects of adding absentee ballots. “However, life can be demanding sometimes and people aren’t always able to be present when elections come around.” Porrell said these ballots provide a solution to those who can’t be there when it’s time to vote.
Williamston has also started to include in their absentee ballots a “I Voted by Mail” sticker in each ballot envelope so voters are able to display the joy of voting in an election, along with a redesign of the absentee voting envelopes to help the postal service to identify the ballots better to ensure delivery and return, Thompson said.
With election season not far away, absentee ballots are set to return into the Michigan community.
The official law that allowed absentee ballots was passed during the Michigan primaries in 2018, when the ballots were originally used for the state election. However, election inspectors struggled to get all of the absentee ballots processed by the close of the polls. That’s when City Clerk of Williamston Holly Thompson requested the city council support the consolidation of precincts.
“This will be a big change for our voters, and I believe it will be the right one to allow for results to be available in a timely manner,” Thompson said.