Off and running: Absentee ballot applications arrive in mailboxes
The voting process for the 2021 city elections has begun this week with the arrival of thousands of absentee ballot applications in Dearborn mailboxes.
You can’t actually cast a vote yet – that starts the week of June 21 – but the arrival of ballot applications is the first official sign from election officials that the August 3 primary election is underway.
City Clerk George Darany reported that a few voters had already returned their applications by mid-afternoon today, just hours after they arrived in the mail.
Not everyone will receive an application. It was sent to Dearborn registered voters who are on the permanent absentee voter list. You have to ask to be on this list, so these are not unsolicited applications.
Dearborn’s permanent AV list had around 5,500 names two years ago, but the list grew to more like 14,500 after so many people voted by absentee ballot last year, and checked the box to be put on the permanent AV list.
It’s a self-contained return mailer (don’t tear it in half when opening, as will be the temptation). You fill it out, fold it so the City Clerk’s address is showing, and seal it with a couple small pieces of tape.
Then you return it. You can put a stamp on it and put it in a mailbox. Or, you can put it in the drop box at the back of the Dearborn Administrative Center. Or, you can go inside the Dearborn Administrative Center and hand it to someone at the Clerk’s Office. Or, you can take a picture of it or scan it (make sure your signature is visible) and email it to City Clerk George Darany at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can request an absentee ballot for the August 3 primary election, or the November 2 general election, or both. Just check the appropriate box. (You really want to check both, so you don’t miss the important primary election.)
Those who return their application within the next four weeks will be sent their actual ballots the week of June 21, in the first batch that goes out from the clerk’s office.
Trying to anticipate questions that will arise, here are some answers:
What does being on the permanent absentee voter list mean? It means you will automatically be sent an application for an absentee ballot before each election, every year an election is held.
Does receiving an application mean I have to vote by absentee ballot? No. You can throw away, ignore, tear up or shred the application. It only means you are given the courtesy of being sent an application, because you asked for it. Some people find it to be a handy reminder notice than an election is coming up (an awakening for those of us involved in the process, who like to think that everyone knows and cares about such things).
Can I still vote in person if I receive this application? Yes, just ignore the application. Even if you do send it in and receive an absentee ballot, you can change your mind later and vote in person, but you have to go through extra steps to cancel the absentee ballot.
Will it be safe to vote in person this year? I’m neither a doctor nor a scientist, but personally, I think so. The City Clerk will still have whatever safety protocols necessary in place.
Once I get my ballot, when does it have to be returned? We’ll get to all of those questions when the actual ballots are sent out. But the answer is, absentee ballots must be returned to the City Clerk by 8:00 p.m. on election day.
What if I didn’t get an application in the mail, but still want an absentee ballot? You can download an application by clicking here, fill it out and submit it to the City Clerk’s Office at 16901 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126, or return it as I described way back in the seventh paragraph.
Oops, I tore the application before I saw "do not detach." What now? You can still use the form, and then return both halves of the form to the clerk either in an envelope or in person. I don't want to get this application in the future. Am I stuck with it? No, just ask the clerk to remove you from the permanent absentee voter list.
For whom should I vote for mayor? Sorry, this is an informational post, and if I advise on this question, I probably won't be able to post it on the Dearborn-based pages I want to.
Do you want to argue about absentee voting? No.