With the November 3 U.S. Election now less than a month away, the term “early voting” has become prominent in recent days.
What exactly does that term mean?
“There has been much confusion over the term ‘early voting’ this election season as we have seen an increase in questions from area residents,” said Independence Township Clerk Cari Neubeck. “Michigan does not participate with ‘early voting,’ per se, except by manner of absentee voting.”
Absentee voter ballots are available now through November 2 to registered voters by way of an Application for Absent Voter ballot.
A voter has the opportunity to vote their ballot in-person at the clerk’s office or can take it home.
When a voter returns their ballot, it is not processed through a scanner, and retained in a secure area until Election Day.
The ballots are then delivered on Election Day to an Absent Voter Counting Board where they are processed by a certified sequestered team of election inspectors.
“Due to the pandemic and anticipated wait times at the polling locations, an absentee voter ballot may be a convenience for voters,” Neubeck said.
Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 3 should voters choose to vote for their candidates in person.
As of October 1, the township clerk’s office has issued 11,903 absentee voter ballots – a record for Independence Township, according to Neubeck – and had already received 2,023 back (17 percent) within just a week of them being mailed.
“We urge voters to hand deliver their ballots to Township Hall,” Neubeck said. “However, pre-paid postage has been provided should a voter need to utilize the U.S. Postal Service.”
A drop box located at the west entrance of Township Hall is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where voters can deposit their ballots and applications for absentee voter ballots securely.
In the City of the Village of Clarkston, Clerk Jennifer Speagle said that 12 absentee ballots went out without secrecy sleeves, but that does not prohibit the ballot from being counted.
“As a matter of fact, a good portion of the absentee voters send back their ballots without the secrecy sleeve,” Speagle said.
At Clarkston City Hall, voting booths are already set up for anyone who would like to apply for or pick up their absentee ballot.
“All absentee ballots are safely stored in a locked box until Election Day,” said Speagle.
— Matt Mackinder