Absentee voting begins in Michigan

BERRIEN COUNTY — Election Day is still just over a month away, but voting by absentee ballot has begun in Michigan.

Last Thursday, voters were able to begin submitting their mail-in, absentee ballots.

Buchanan City Clerk Barbara Pitcher said this year’s election processes are not new to Michigan.

“[This is] no different than we’ve been doing in the last several elections,” Pitcher said. “No votes are tabulated until Election Day.”

In Niles, Deputy Clerk Amanda Barnett said things are very busy at the clerk’s office.

“We are currently assigning ballot numbers to voters for absentee ballots that we don’t have in yet,” Barnett said. “When [the ballots] come in, we can send them out as soon as possible.”

The ballots should be arriving this week, Barnett said.

Michigan does not require residents to provide a reason to vote absentee. Applications for absentee ballots were sent out to registered voters in Michigan. Residents may still request an application for an absentee ballot, if something happened to the first application mailed out. Residents may contact their city or township clerk to request an absentee ballot application.

Niles City Hall, located at 333 N. Second St. in Niles, is currently still closed to the public due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

According to Barnett, absentee ballot applications and voter registration applications may be obtained through the city hall’s drive-thru during business hours.

In Buchanan, Pitcher said the process of mailing out ballots is about to start.

“Beginning on Wednesday, we will be mailing out absentee voter ballots to those who have previously submitted applications,” Pitcher said. “While the U.S. Postal Service has put processes in place to expedite election mail, we recognize that we will be putting a lot of strain on the system during the increased volume of absent voter ballots within the compressed timeframe.”

Pitcher said voters are encouraged to drop off their ballots in-person at the Buchanan City Hall during regular hours or in the building’s secure drop box on the edge of its parking lot.

The blue drop box behind the Niles Charter Township building on Bell Road will serve as a secure location for township residents to drop off their absent voting ballots. Absentee voting began in Michigan on Sept. 24. (Leader photo/CHRISTINA CLARK)

The Niles Charter Township building, located at 320 Bell Road in Niles, is open to the public for residents to stop in and request information and paperwork if needed. The township building has a blue drop box behind the building for voters to drop their absentee voter applications and ballots into when they are ready to submit their votes. They are also able to mail their ballots in, as long as the ballots are mailed with enough time to be processed through the postal service.

Residents are able to apply for an absentee voter ballot online through the Michigan Voter Information website.

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