No-reason absentee voting now allowed, just in time for Dearborn school bond prop

There’s a lot of chatter online about Dearborn Public Schools’ ballot proposal for a $240 million bond issue for capital improvements to the district’s buildings.

This will be decided in a special election Nov. 5. No election was scheduled before the school board decided to put the bond question forward, so the bond issue will be the only item on the ballot.

History shows that voter turnout will be light. An off-year, one-issue ballot doesn’t generate much interest, no matter how important the issue. I believe these proposals should be decided during a regular election, when more people are motivated to vote for state, federal or local offices. Tax questions should be put before as many voters as possible, which means elections when turnout is traditionally higher. But, that ship has sailed, and Dearborn voters have a big decision to make in November.

Don’t let the social media activity fool you. Ask your neighbors who don’t hang around on Facebook if they even know there’s an election Nov. 5 that will affect their property taxes. Spoiler alert: They don’t.

Even for those who are aware and motivated, let’s face it, when it comes down to actually heading to your local school to vote on Nov. 5, some will opt to not make the effort because, well, it’s just one item. Don’t blame the messenger; I’ve observed voter patterns and behaviors for many years.

This is a good time to vote by absentee ballot. And, for the first time in Dearborn, every voter can do it for the school bond election.

A year ago, Michigan voters approved the Promote the Vote initiative (on the ballot as Proposal 3), which, among other things, established no-reason absentee voting. Previously, state law required you to declare a reason you were asking for an absentee ballot. You had to be age 60 or over, or plan to be out of town on election day, or be physically unable to vote in person, along with a few other reasons outlined in state law.

The new law says that anyone who wants an absentee ballot can get one, period. No explanation required.

You can do it all by mail. You can download and print an application from the Michigan Secretary of State website, by clicking on this link:

Fill out the application and mail it to:

Dearborn Administrative Center
George Darany, City Clerk
16901 Michigan Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126

You can also take the application to George’s office in person, and pick up your ballot right there.

Clerk Darany’s hard-working staff will mail you a ballot, which you can fill out at your leisure, and mail it back in the provided envelope (being careful to follow the instructions, of course).

You can call George’s office at 943-2010 with questions, or even to ask them to mail you an application, if for some reason you’re unable to print the application online. The Clerk’s Office will mail you one if you call. (You can’t call to get a ballot, just the application.)

So there you have it. One less reason to skip voting on the school bond.  Let’s hope the new law allowing no-reason absentee voting increases the number of voters participating in this one.

Do a favor for your neighbor who’s not a regular on social media: Print an absentee voter application for them, too.