Lansing residents head to the polls Nov. 2 to vote in several local races, but many are planning to vote by absentee ballot.
As of Oct. 13, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said that in Lansing, 92,505 absentee voter applications had been mailed out. Byrum said 15,348 absentee ballots had been requested, 15,265 absentee ballots had been mailed out to voters and 4,978 absentee ballots had been received and cast in Lansing.
Byrum said regardless of what voting method is used, elections are carefully monitored.
“Michigan runs some of the safest and most secure elections in the nation,” she said. “There’s a lot of security and safety checks along the way that the average voter never sees. Whether it’s the fact that we vote on paper ballots, which is the most secure way to vote, to the ballot stub that is linked to the voter but then ultimately removed before it goes through the tabulator to maintain the secrecy of the vote for that voter.”
Every voter in the city of Lansing was sent an absentee voter application to promote safety during the pandemic, according to a Sept. 22 press release from Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope. Voters must return a completed application, which is reviewed by the clerk’s office, before they are mailed an absentee ballot.
“I hope we will continue to see an increase (in) voter participation in local elections, which often have the biggest impact on our families and neighborhoods,” Swope said in the press release.
In the Aug. 3 primary election, 13,818 out of 91,962 registered Lansing voters participated, or about 15%. About 11,000 absentee ballots were sent out, and roughly 70% of those were returned.
The Lansing ballot will include the mayoral race between incumbent Andy Schor and City Council member Kathie Dunbar, as well as elections for city clerk, the Lansing City Council at large, the Lansing City Council Ward 2 and the Lansing City Council Ward 4.
Demetric Boyd, a south Lansing resident, plans on voting in the upcoming election.
“I’ll do absentee voting,” he said. “Some people don’t have cars to go there and vote. If you can just mail in your vote, I’d rather do that. Some people are shy, some people don’t want to be in person because of COVID. I think it’s popular because of that.”
While he said he did not yet know who he would vote for, one of Boyd’s main reasons for voting is the change he hopes the newly elected officials bring. His concerns for south Lansing include homelessness, gang violence and social injustice.
“We really need that help out here,” he said. “We need more positivity. Instead of saying it, do it.”
Lansing resident Alicia Brace said absentee ballots are perfect for those who have a busy schedule.
“I think it’s a lot more convenient, and I also think there’s probably a lot of people who are concerned about voting in person because of COVID,” she said. “For convenience, if I’m working and have kids and have to then drive across town to vote, I think it enables people to vote who have difficulties.”
Brace said she is encouraged by the number of absentee voters and hopes for improvements in her neighborhood.
“If you really want to impact change or do anything in your local community that’s all in the power of who’s in charge locally,” she said. “There are vast differences in opportunity depending on what neighborhood you live in, and what neighborhood you live in is determined by what neighborhood you can afford to live in. If I can only afford to live on the south side of Lansing, my grocery store choices are super limited, but my weed shop choices are abundant.”
Absentee voters may drop off ballots either in drop boxes or in person before 8 p.m. on Election Day. Residents can register to vote through Election Day.