With millions of Michigan voters expected to use absentee ballots in 2020, it’s important to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of filling out and mailing an absentee ballot.
With a change in election law by voters in 2018, any voter can request and acquire an absentee ballot. These ballots can be requested from your city and township clerks.
You can also apply for an absentee ballot by filling out this form. You can also download the form here and mail it in. Alternatively, you can stop by your city or township hall between today and election day to get a ballot to fill out on the spot to turn in.
However, with many voters using absentee ballots for the first time, some mistakes are bound to be made. Here is a short list of things to avoid.
Are You Registered or Seeking a Ballot from the Right Place?
Unsure if you are registered? Check online at michigan.gov/vote. If you are not registered or need to change your registration, visit your city or township hall, Secretary of State, or county clerk’s office. While you are there, you can also get a ballot on the spot.
One of the leading causes of absentee ballot rejection is that they arrive late. As of right now, the law requires absentee ballots to be in the hands of local election officials by 8 pm on Election Day.
Drop box and clerk locations for your jurisdiction can be found at michigan.gov/vote under “Your Clerk.”
Don’t Forget to Sign!
The second most common reason that absentee ballots are thrown out; people forget to sign the envelope. Your signature is critical because it offers a protection about fraud. This signature is checked against the one on your absentee ballot or any signature on file. If your ballot is missing the signature, officials are still required to contact you and provide and opportunity to fix the problem.
Make Sure You Fill Out the Ballot Properly
Absentee voters do not have the same opportunity that walk-in voters do. If a walk-in voter fills out their form incorrectly, they are allowed to redo it on the spot. If you are mailing in your vote, make sure to read all instructions. Completely fill in the ovals or squares with a ballpoint pen. Drawing a circle around a candidate’s name does not count.
Fill Out Both Sides of the Ballot
Typically, partisan races are on the front of the ballot. Make sure to check the other side for all nonpartisan races as well as ballot questions.
You Can Get Another Ballot
Have you misplaced your absentee ballot? Maybe your favorite candidate dropped out. You can obtain a new ballot from your city or township clerk and they will invalidate your original ballot.
You Are Not Limited to Using the Mail
If you are unsure about the mail system, you will still be able to vote in person or pick up a ballot at your city hall. Ballots that are given in person cannot be given to anyone other than you, the voter. You will be asked to present a photo ID when picking up your absentee ballot. Many cities also offer drop boxes so ballots can be submitted after hours. The location of these drop boxes can be found at michigan.gov/vote
What if They Didn’t Receive my Ballot?
Are you worried that your ballot will get lost in the mail? What if you forgot to sign the envelope or your signature did not match? Thankfully can check and track your absentee ballot at michigan.gov/vote. Simply type in your name and birthday under “voter information” and it will let you know if your absentee ballot was filled out and when it was received.