How you can vote by absentee ballot

Any partisan debates over the virtues of voting by mail are a moot point in Michigan. Anyone who wants to can vote by absentee ballot. No reason needs to be stated, as used to be the case before voters approved no-reason absentee voting in 2018.  If every voter in the state wants to vote by mail, they can.

Heightened interest in absentee voting is expected as voters look for ways to reduce exposure to coronavirus during the pandemic. While it is expected that in-person voting will still take place at schools and other polling places, absentee voting greatly cuts down on any possible exposure.

Those who have never voted by absentee ballot may be surprised at how simple the process is.  Here's how Dearborn residents can vote from home:

1. Fill out an application. The Michigan Secretary of State's Office in May mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.  If you misplaced or discarded that application, you can obtain an application at the City Clerk’s office at the Dearborn Administrative Center, you can call the clerk’s office at 943-2010 to ask to have an application mailed to you, OR you can download and print an application right now by clicking here.

2. Submit the application. You can mail your completed and signed application to:
Dearborn Administrative Center
City Clerk George Darany
16901 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, MI 48126

(If you live in Michigan but OUTSIDE OF DEARBORN, you can use the same application to submit to your local city or township clerk.)

You can also place your application in the dropbox outside the Dearborn Administrative Center, or turn it in at the clerk’s office counter at the Dearborn Administrative Center.

3. Your ballot will be mailed to you. Roughly one month or so before the August primary election, on June 29 and July 1, City Clerk George Darany's office mailed its first large batches of ballots to everyone who had requested one by that point. Of course, you can still get an absentee ballot up until the day before the election, but at that point you should both obtain and return the ballot in person at the clerk’s office. If you haven't mailed an application for absentee ballot to the clerk's office by July 22, I'd recommend going to the clerk's office in person.

4. Return your completed ballot. Make sure you follow the instructions, including signing the envelope that’s provided, and then mail it back to the clerk’s office. Or, you can drop it off in person, by 8 p.m. on election day. (Only you, a family member or a person living in your house can return your ballot if you don’t mail it.)

That’s it. Simple. And minimal risk of virus exposure.

A few extra points about absentee voting

When you fill out your application to receive an absentee ballot, you can check a box so you will automatically receive a ballot before both the August and November elections.  If you know you will vote absentee for both elections, it will save you a step of mailing a fresh application for November.

Also, there is a check box on the application that will put you on Clerk Darany’s “permanent absentee voter list.” Voters on that list will be mailed an application before each election, every year. It doesn’t mean you have to vote by absentee ballot every year, you can disregard the application as you see fit and just go vote at your school, but you will get an application (which is a good reminder about an upcoming election) for every election.

If you have mailed an application but haven’t received your ballot by a week before the election, call the clerk’s office.

If you return the ballot by mail, put it in the mail a week before the election so it’s sure to get to the clerk’s office in time. It doesn’t matter when it is postmarked, the ballot has to physically arrive in the clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on election day, or it won’t be counted.

Even if you get an absentee ballot, you can still change your mind and vote in person at your local school or polling place. You can even actually change your vote after you mail in your absentee ballot, as long as you go to the clerk’s office by the day before the election.


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