Absentee voter putting his ballot in the Election Drop Box outside Lansing City Hall. Credit: Asya Lawrence
Because absentee ballots doubled compared to the 2016 presidential election, Ingham County’s counting board is critical to this election. This county board is made up of county residents who will process and account for each ballot.
Absent Voter Counting Board
An absent voter counting board or AVCB is a separate group of inspectors who process absentee ballots in designated locations with their own tabulators.
The AVCB handles large numbers of absentee ballots said Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum. She said changes have been made this year in terms of operating the counting boards.
Typically, absentee counting boards usually occur at the local level at the city and township clerk’s office; however, the Governor signed Public Act 95 of 2020 that allows for a consolidated county absentee counting board, said Byrum.
Need for an AVCB due to high volume of absentee ballots
Michiganders are choosing to avoid physically going to the polls and are voting via absentee ballot instead.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that over 2.7 million voters have requested an absentee ballot. Compared to the 2016 presidential race, there has been a 145% increase in requests of mail-in ballots, according to The Detroit News.
Clerk Byrum explained the county has received 60,771 absentee ballots.
On November 6th, Michigan citizens voted to adopt Proposal 3, a statewide initiative which will overhaul Michigan’s current election law. Also known as ‘Promote the Vote,’ Proposal 3 is a comprehensive measure which will allow people to automatically register to vote when conducting business at the Secretary of State’s office unless they decline to register. Proposal 3 proponents say it will make voting easier for every Michigan citizen, including those who think about voting in the last minute. “Proposal 3 assures voting rights for Michigan citizens more than they have right now,” said Mary Pollock, government relations coordinator for the Michigan chapter of AAUW.
When Meridian Township voters opened their absentee ballot marking instructions, they were presented with directions on how to vote straight party even though straight ticket voting is banned for the Nov. 6 general election in Michigan. “I was contacted by a voter last week who was confused because the instructions that are included with the absentee ballot that was mailed to them included instructions on how to mark a straight party ballot,” said Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum. Although the instructions were incorrect, voters do not need to worry because the ballot is accurate. Meridian Township Clerk Brett Dreyfus said that there is no need for voter confusion because there is no straight party option on the ballot.
East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks has a message for voters: registering for an absentee ballot is one of the easiest things you’ll do this election season. Wicks said students are consistently surprised at how simple the process is. “That’s what I’ve heard over and over and over,” she said. “Students came in and they were like, ‘I can’t believe this is so easy, I didn’t need to show a birth certificate.’ Nope. Just need to show your ID, that’s it.”
With the November Election less than a month away, many students are gearing up to vote. Some vote absentee in their home districts, while others choose to vote here in East Lansing. Either way, it can get confusing, especially for first-time voters. For students who plan on voting, East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks’ message is simple. “I don’t care where you vote, I care that you vote,” Wicks said.
By ANJANA SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING – A Detroit senator says it should be easier for military and overseas citizens to vote in November after 150 voters received absentee ballots late for the August primaries. But there’s virtually no chance the law will be changed in time for this year’s election. Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, said he was upset when 70 city and township clerks missed state and federal deadlines to provide military and overseas voters with their absentee ballots in time for the August primaries. Young’s bill would allow overseas military and voters to electronically submit their absentee ballots. He said, “If these brave young men and women are out there for us, it is about time that we stand up for them.”
The bill would also apply to Michigan non-military citizens who are out of the country on Election Day.