Grand Ledge prepares for the November election

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With just weeks until  Election Day, the Grand Ledge clerk’s office is working to distribute and collect absentee ballots, as well as create safe polling locations for those who choose to vote in-person. 

Grand Ledge City Clerk Gregory Newman is responsible for the administration of the election. Newman said he can assure citizens that regardless of how they choose to vote, Michigan elections are safe, secure and reliable. 

“Ballots sent by mail are counted and secured just as ballots cast in the polls, maintaining voter privacy and election integrity,” Newman said. “Voting is a right held by only a portion of the world’s population and should be available to everyone without concern of someone questioning the outcome, and free of pressure and intimidation.” 

For those who prefer to vote at the polls, Newman said he is addressing COVID-19 safety in compliance with federal, state and local guidelines. 

“The city of Grand Ledge has four precincts and all polling locations are at the Sawdon Administration Building,” Newman said, referring to the main offices for Grand Ledge Public Schools. “We require all election workers to wear face masks and are placing transparent barriers between the voters and the election workers in the ballot distribution and tabulation areas where face-to-face interactions are required.”

Newman also said each voter will receive a new, unused pen and voters may take the pen or leave it in a bin for sanitation after Election Day. In addition to the pen protocol, floors will be marked to encourage social distancing while standing in line. 

Despite the safety precautions, Newman said he believes voting by mail is the safest option to avoid face-to-face interactions and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city has installed two dropboxes for absentee voter ballots. One dropbox is located in downtown Grand Ledge at the Bridge Street Plaza and the second location is outside City Hall at 310 Greenwood St. 

Grand Ledge resident Joanne Ellena took advantage of the newly installed dropbox and cast her ballot early at the downtown location. 

“I wanted to get my vote in early,” Ellena said. “I also published it out to the people in the Grand Ledge Facebook group because I want people to know that it was really simple. A lot of people hang out downtown and I think that this is a great thing that they allowed a ballot box there.” 

Ellena said she is confident in the security of the dropbox system and the absentee ballot process does not worry her. 

“We have been doing this for years and some of the states have been doing it for many, many years without any problems,” Ellena said. “Just because there are dropboxes now, doesn’t mean that everyone is going to vote that way. I don’t care if you vote in the ballot box or in-person, the main message is that it is great that we have a lot of different options for voting.

“We just need to get people out to vote.” 

Grand Ledge resident Toney Casey, a who is a military veteran, said he does not share that level of trust. 

“For me, an absentee ballot is used for someone who is in the military and can’t vote,” Casey said. “Even when I voted absentee when I was in the service, I still felt that there was a big chance my vote didn’t matter. With the amount of mail and shipping we are doing due to COVID, I don’t have a lot of faith in the delivery systems themselves. I am sure they are going to lose some ballots.”

Eaton County Chief Election Specialist Kimberly Morris said in an email that she can ensure election integrity for all residents in the county. The county clerk’s office assists local clerks in managing elections.

“Grand Ledge City Clerk Gregory Newman brings his many years of election expertise to the November general election, and city electors can rest assured that he will ensure safe, secure, and fair elections in Grand Ledge,” Morris said. “Eaton County voters can feel the same confidence in our county elections due to the work of all our excellent city and township clerks who work very hard to ensure election integrity.”

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