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absentee ballot

An absentee ballot in an envelope.
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Lots of people have been surprised to learn that absentee voters in Michigan can change their ballots even if they've already cast them – as long as they do it by 4 p.m. on Monday.

"The old ballot will be voided," said Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams. "It will not be counted."

Woodhams said absentee voters can request a re-do for any reason. But it's usually to correct a mistake, like voting for too many candidates or skipping portions of the ballot.

"This is really an uncommon thing," Woodhams said. "But it does happen from time to time."

Postcards like this one were mailed out by the Michigan Democratic Party to urge voters to mail in absentee ballots.
Paul Kanan / Michigan Democratic Party

The Michigan Democratic Party wants to make sure all voters who got absentee ballots turn them in on time. But some recipients have been confused.

Several voters have called their county clerk's office to ask about postcards, which were only sent to absentee voters who have yet to mail their ballots in.

Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Paul Kanan says the postcards were never meant to confuse anybody, but instead, to encourage them to vote on time.

“We just want to make sure that everybody who wants to vote does vote and has their vote counted,” Kanan says.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims there will be “large-scale voter fraud” this election. But election officials say they’re confident that will not be the case in Michigan. 

“We want to assure everyone, regardless of their political ideology or their partisan affiliation that their voice will be heard on election day and their voice will be counted,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Woodhams says this isn’t the first election he’s fielded these concerns, and guesses it won’t be the last.

State law specifically says people without photo IDs, can sign an affidavit - and still vote
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are 7,495,216 people registered to vote in Michigan in the 2016 presidential elections. That’s more than 40,000 more than were registered in the last presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s Office. There are more voters registered now than in 2008, the previous record.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last week.

Some of the biggest registration surges came from counties with a large college-age population; Washtenaw, Ingham, Isabella, Marquette, and Kalamazoo counties.

It’s like November in September as absentee ballots in Michigan are in the mail and, for some, voting has already begun.

If history is any guide, about a quarter of Michigan voters will vote using an absentee ballot, even though some will probably lie to do it because not everyone can legally cast an absentee ballot in Michigan.

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

Just 1 in 5 Michigan voters cast a ballot Tuesday. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s actually close to a record high turnout for this kind of primary.

“There were a number of highly-contested congressional primaries across the state, so that helped drive interest,” says Fred Woodhams, spokesperson from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office.

Michigan presidential primary voters will head to the polls a month from tomorrow. But, if you think the action is waiting until then, think again.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a push in Congress to reverse some efforts to limit voter access to the polls.

Michigan and other states have taken steps to limit early voting options and access to absentee ballots.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) says Congress should take steps to protect voter access.

State AG Bill Schuette wants to make sure no one can vote straight-ticket this November.
Theresa Thompson / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bill to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan could have a tough time in the state Senate.

The state House approved House Bill 4724 late Wednesday night. It also tied the bill to one eliminating the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots. That means one bill can’t become law without the other.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state House committee has adopted a bill to eliminate the straight ticket voting option on election ballots. And the committee linked the measure’s future to a bill to make it easier to vote absentee.

Republicans say it’s a compromise that will require voters to educate themselves about candidates.

There are just two more weeks before the Legislature’s done for the year and House and Senate Republicans are spending them setting things up for election season 2016.

There’s a very partisan debate underway at the state Capitol about eliminating the straight-ticket voting option on the ballot. Straight-ticket voting is what allows voters to make just one mark on the ballot to cast all their votes for candidates of one party or the other.

No-reason absentee voting bill pushed in Michigan House

Dec 5, 2015
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republicans' push to eliminate Michigan's straight-party voting option may improve the odds of voters being allowed to cast absentee ballots for any reason.

A lawmaker is pushing for passage of "no-reason" absentee voting legislation next week. Voters could ask for an absentee ballot application in person at their clerk's office without needing an excuse.

They currently must be 60 years or older, be out of town when polls are open or meet other criteria.

kakisky / morgueFile

Local clerks and activists panned an effort to end straight-ticket voting in Michigan at a state House hearing on Thursday.

Voters would no longer be able to fill in one bubble to vote for every candidate representing a single political party on the ballot.

Clerks say the change would make lines and wait times longer on Election Day.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers could make big changes to voting laws before the end of the year.

A state House panel on Wednesday approved no-reason absentee voting in Michigan. People would no longer need to meet criteria to mail in their ballots before Election Day.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Time’s running out faster than you may think to mail an absentee ballot for next week’s election.     

Roughly half of the votes in some of next week’s elections are predicted to be cast absentee.  But some absentee votes won’t be counted.

Lansing city clerk Chris Swope says changes in the way the post office processes the mail is adding a day to the delivery of absentee ballots. 

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

Republicans in the state Senate have put a damper on a legislative effort to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

A Republican-sponsored bill in the state House seems to have wide bipartisan support. But if the House approves the bill, it appears it won’t go any farther.

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

A plan to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan is gaining significant support from Republicans.

Unlike Michigan, most states no longer set conditions for voting absentee.

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

Democratic state lawmakers are again hoping to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said recently that more people who have died or moved out of state must be removed from the state’s voter registration database before lawmakers will agree to stop putting conditions on who can vote absentee.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry review Election Day in Michigan including voter turnout, victories and disappointments for both parties, and what yesterday’s results could mean for the next four years.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss who’ll be more hurt by low voter turnout on Tuesday, more Congressional race surprises, and a Detroit developer who dropped $3.1 million on some of the city's worst properties.


Ruth Johnson, Michigan Secretary of State
Ruth Johnson for Michigan

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Gov. Rick Snyder both say the state should allow every voter who does not want to wait until Election Day to cast an absentee ballot. So does Johnson’s Democratic opponent in the November election.

Michigan is in the minority of states that does not currently allow no-reason absentee voting. Twenty-seven other states and Washington D.C. already allow it.

So what is getting in the way of Michigan joining that list?

papierdreams / Flickr

Election Day is just under a month away.

But Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry has already voted – at his kitchen table, with an absentee ballot.

Well, the election is officially four weeks away, but not for me. I voted yesterday morning, in the best place possible, at my kitchen table.

I can legally do this, because I am more than 60 years old. If you reach that age, you qualify to be sent an absentee ballot through the mail, every election.

I won’t tell you for whom I voted, but I will tell you this: We’d be a better democracy if everyone could vote this way, if everyone got a ballot in the mail, took the time to study it, and then mailed it in.

Or as I do, drop it off at city hall.

The Michigan Democratic Party is expanding its effort to kickstart the absentee voting process online.

Party officials announced Thursday that voters statewide can now apply for absentee ballots online, through the website miabsentee.com.

The site is designed for mobile internet devices. MDP chair Lon Johnson said this is about merging two trends: more people choosing absentee voting, and the growing use of mobile devices.

Tuesday may be primary election day, but the truth is we’re already off to the races. The voting has begun. Absentee voting. Absentee ballots are the first ballots cast, but the last to be counted on Election Day. And more and more they can make the difference between winning and losing.

That’s because voting absentee is on the rise in Michigan -- nearly doubled over the past 10 years. More than one in four (27 percent, to be specific) of the ballots cast in 2012 were absentee. And that’s why the smart campaigns focus early on absentee voters. They keep track of who requests an absentee ballot, and then quickly steer campaign propaganda in that voter’s direction.

It is also why the Michigan Democratic Party -- with an eye toward November -- has been quietly carrying on an absentee voter experiment. Voters in Detroit and Lansing, can now apply for their absentee ballots online.

The week in review

Jan 19, 2013
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This “week in review” Michigan Radio’s Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss: Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State speech, the possibility of no fault absentee voting, a positive report on Michigan’s housing market, and a possible tax amnesty program for Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Post Office is now looking into the hundreds of undelivered absentee ballots in southeast Michigan.

A spokesman for the United States Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General says it’s directed its special agents in Michigan to contact city clerks in Auburn Hills and Roseville to ask about the undelivered absentee ballots.

On October 3rd, Terry Kowal, City Clerk for Auburn Hills, sent out 1,455 absentee voting ballots to residents who had requested them.

She knew she had a problem about a week later.  Calls started coming in from voters, saying things like, "Where's my ballot?  My husband got his, but I didn't get mine."

"That always raises a red flag for clerks because they're mailed at the same time," Kowal told Michigan Radio.  (And) they're filed alphabetically, so they'd be in the same mail tray."

If you are a politician, or promoting one of the ballot proposals and want to influence my vote, don’t waste your time.

I voted a week ago, by absentee ballot, even though I may be home on election day. I can do that because I am 60 years old. Hey, you should be able to get some benefit out of being 60.

But here’s the thing. Unless you are my age or older, you can’t legally get an absentee ballot, except in a very few cases, mostly if you know you are going to be in jail on election day, or out of town.