Absentee ballots could help set record turnout in Tuesday elections

Posted at 3:30 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 17:52:06-04

(WXYZ) — Voters on Tuesday will decide races for Mayor, City Council, ballot questions, and other issues in Detroit and throughout the suburbs. It’s a big deal for those communities. Turnout could also set records.

In Clawson, the turnout trend is going up.

City Clerk August Gitschlag tells 7 Action News, “On our school election, a school bond election that we had back in August, the entire voter turnout was up.”

And in the races next week the clerk says, “of the 730 some people that voted absentee two years ago in our local election. We've already have about 1,680 ballots out.”

In 2018, Michigan voters passed by a 2 to 1 margin Proposal 3 which became a game-changer and easier to vote including with absentee ballots. You no longer need a reason to vote absentee. You only have to apply for a ballot with a signature on the form.

Drop boxes are set up for you to return your ballot or you can mail it in. You vote on your schedule.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown tells 7 Action News, “I would call that a game-changer that everybody has that ability to vote that way.”

Returned ballots are verified with the signature on the envelope against the signature in the system. If there’s not a match, the voter gets a call.

Clerk Gitschlag says, “We always bring them in and make an effort to have them fix a signature.”

After last year’s Presidential race, Republicans in the Legislature passed what they call reforms that include:

  • Better ID requirements for in-person voting at the polls
  • ID numbers in addition to signatures for verification of absentee ballots
  • No unsolicited applications to be sent out

Critics charge that’s where areas of fraud can happen.

County Clerk Lisa Brown respond with, “Where, where, you know, people can say whatever they want, it doesn't mean it's true.”

She ran test ballots through the tabulating machines on Monday.

A Republican-led Senate Oversight Committee this year found no widespread fraud in Michigan.

The clerk encourages poll watchers on Tuesday and during tabulations after the ballots are in.

“I invite people to come and watch and learn. Don't listen to somebody who is just saying stuff and they're not election administrator and they have no proof of anything.”

Absentee ballots must be returned by 8 pm Tuesday to be counted.