Delhi Township Clerk Evan Hope said he and his office are prepared for the vast number of voters using absentee ballots.
Under a state constitutional amendment approved in 2018, all Michigan voters can vote via absentee ballots without a reason. For the 2020 elections, the clerk’s office staffed up to be ready for higher demand.
“The process has gone really smooth for us so far,” Hope said. “There has been a record number of ballots.”
Getting an absentee ballot is a multi-step process, Assistant Clerk Amy Marlan said.
“The voter will request an absent voter ballot through an application,” Marlan said. “Once we get that, we check the signature to make sure it’s the person and mail the ballot to them.”
When the office receives the ballot back, it’s stored until the Monday before the election. That is when the office can open envelopes, Marlan said. Counting votes, however, doesn’t happen until Election Day.
Hope said many people don’t want to vote at the polls and mail-in voting provides an easier option.
“A lot of times, people like getting the ballot ahead of time,” Hope said. “They like to get their hands on it and look over what’s on it. When going to the polls, some are surprised by what’s on the ballot. This isn’t really a problem for the November election, it’s more on the August ones.”
Voters may not have heard as much about local offices appearing on the August ballot as they do about the higher-profile races, like president, on the November ballot.
On the other hand, there are still people who want to physically go to the polls, Hope said.
“There are some people that it’s what they like and think you should do,” Hope said. “These people are also able to change their vote if they want, which you can’t do for mail-in ballots. If they make a mistake, there’s really no way of fixing it.”
Hope said his office has been able to improve processes for mail-in voting. He said when his office receives a mail-in ballot, the voter gets a confirmation email.
“One thing I’ve started this year was we took advantage of when we were closed to the public,” Hope said. “We had staff collect emails and put them in the system. Letting those people know that their ballot has been received has saved us a lot of calls.”