Thursday, October 8, 2020

Clerks mail record number of absentee ballots to area voters

Nearly 12,500 Northville Township General Election absentee ballots 
were mailed last Wednesday, Sept. 23 - two days early - by Township 
Clerk Marjorie Banner (left), Deputy Clerk Katie Anderson and their 
staff members. This is the largest absentee ballot mailing in the 
history of the township, officials said. Banner reminded absentee voters
 to sign the envelope when returning the ballot and because of previously 
reported mail issues regarding ballots, voters may prefer to return them 
using the Drop Box at any time of the day, use the drive-thru window at
 township hall between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or wear a mask and use the box
 in the lobby or the second floor clerk's office inside township hall.

Blue and white envelopes containing absentee ballots began arriving in mailboxes throughout the area last week and local municipal clerks are bracing for a huge response from voters.  The monumental increase in requests for absentee or mail-in ballots may indicate an unprecedented turn out at the polls Nov. 3, they agree.

In Canton Township, Clerk Michael A. Siegrist and his staff have mailed 32,703 absentee ballots. That is more than double the 14,220 requested for the 2016 Presidential Election, he noted. 

Siegrist said he is anticipating a 79 percent turnout of the 72,000 registered voters in Canton for the November election. 

Canton Township Clerk 
Michael Siegrist
“That would be just over 56,000 residents voting. That means that almost 60 percent of voters will be using an absentee ballot,” he said. 

The City of Inkster has mailed 5,099 ballots to date according to Yolanda Holmes, assistant city clerk in Inkster while Inkster City Clerk Felicia Rutledge recently notified all voters that with the short turnaround time and the high volume of absentee ballot requests, her office staff is “diligently in the process of issuing absentee ballots by mail and working extraordinarily hard to get ballots issued.” She said that absentee ballots would also be available for counter issuance at her office in city hall by last Monday.

Nearly 12,500 Northville Township General Election absentee ballots were mailed to requestors on Sept. 23 explained Township Clerk Marjorie Banner, the largest absentee ballot mailing in the history of the township. Banner reminded absentee voters to sign the envelope when returning the ballot and because of previously reported mail issues regarding ballots, voters may prefer to return them using the drop box near township hall at any time of the day, or the drive-through window at township hall between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Those wishing to personally hand their ballots to the clerk's office on the second floor of township hall will need to wear a mask and observe all safety protocols, she cautioned.

City of Plymouth voters who requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election should have already seen them in their mailboxes, according City Clerk Maureen Brodie. Her office delivered absentee ballots to the post office last week for more than 3,700 absentee ballot applications which were received by Sept. 24.

Ballots can be completed and returned by mail or hand-delivered to one of the three drop boxes available in the city, she said. Two are located inside Plymouth City Hall and one of those is available 24 hours. A third drop box at the drive-up area at the Plymouth District Library, is also available 24 hours, Brodie said. 

“Remember to sign your ballot return envelope and seal it with your ballot inside in its secrecy sleeve,” she cautioned. 

In Plymouth Township, Clerk Jerry Vorva said his office has mailed more than 12,000 absentee ballots as of last Friday. He said he expects that more will be mailed and that 14,000 to 15,000 absentee ballots will be requested in the township. He said that in 2016, the township issued only 6,500 absentee ballots and there were only 17,500 total votes cast, so the absentee ballots this election could total the entire vote count of 2016.

“I'm expecting 18 to 19,000 total voters,” he said. 

Romulus City Clerk Ellen Craig-Bragg has been urging voters to return the absentee ballots at their convenience using the one of the two drop box locations available. She said there is one in the city hall parking lot and another in the city senior center parking lot.

“There are also two drop boxes inside of city hall,” she added. 

Craig-Bragg said her office had mailed 5,743 absentee ballots by last week.  

“Voters who have requested an absentee ballot and have not received it by Oct. 19, should contact the clerk's office at (734) 942-7540. Voters who have not mailed in their AV ballots by Oct. 19 should use the drop boxes,” Craig-Bragg advised.

Her office, like most other municipal clerks, will have special, extended week-end hours this month, leading up to the election. 

In Sumpter Township, Deputy Clerk Anthony Burdick said that 2,088 absentee ballots had been sent to voters requesting them and in Van Buren Township, Clerk Leon Wright said that 9,251 absentee ballots had been requested and mailed to township voters by Oct. 1.

“This is a historical amount of absentee ballots for Van Buren Township and our office is very excited for the turnout already. We encourage anyone who is interested in voting absentee to visit or to come to the clerk's office to request an absentee ballot in person,” Wright said.

Wayne City Clerk Tina Stanke said her office had mailed 3,925 ballots by last Thursday and that requests continue to come into her office daily, as do returned ballots. She said that about 375 of those ballots had already been returned in the city, waiting to be counted on Nov. 3. 

“We have a brand new, stainless steel ballot box on the east side of city hall,” she said. “I urge voters to use it. It is absolutely secure.”

The ballot box, Stanke said, was funded by Wayne County and is a convenience voters can utilize 24 hours a day. 

Westland had issued 22,083 absentee ballots by last Friday, according to City Clerk Richard LeBlanc, and 2,988 had also been returned by that date.

“With more than one month to go until Election Day, the more than 22,000 issued as of today compares to a total of 10,504 issued for the 2016 Presidential Election,” he said. 

Westland has 64,869 voters, LeBlanc said, and the Permanent Absentee Voters list stands at 21,687. 

“We expect the total number of issued AVs to exceed 25,000 for the Nov. 3 election.  Completed absentee ballots can be delivered to the U.S. Post Office, or Westland City Hall if you're a registered voter in Westland.  We prefer that voters deliver their voted, signed ballot to city hall. 

“The city has three drop box areas, one in the parking lot, on the face of the building at the main entrance, and in a mail slot at the clerk's portion of the counter inside city hall.  Postage is not required if you use the city-only drop box or mail slot,” LeBlanc reminded voters.

All returned ballots have a barcode on the envelope, not on the ballot, LeBlanc said, and voters are required to sign the envelope. That signature is compared electronically to the signature of the voter on file through the state voter database before it is placed in a secure bin to become tabulated on Election Day, he noted.  

LeBlanc said he strongly encourages absentee balloting for the safety of both the voter and his staff.

“We are outfitting our precinct election officials with PPE, but I consider them to be as much of a frontline champion as many of those others who venture out to serve the public.  For their safety and mine, I'm choosing to vote with a safe and secure absentee ballot out of respect for all other people.  Our office encourages all voters to consider doing the same,” he said.