Clerks offer guidance on absentee voting, voting precinct changes

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 17, 2020

Advertisement

MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — The clerks in Madison Heights and Hazel Park are reminding voters about their options leading up to the primary election Aug. 4 and the general election this November. Voters in Madison Heights should also note that several precinct locations changed.


Absentee voting
In Madison Heights, qualified voters can come to the City Clerk’s Office, inside City Hall at 300 W. 13 Mile Road, to apply for or receive their absentee ballot. The office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the exception of 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Voters should bring photo identification such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military or school ID.

If a resident is not already registered to vote, they can do so in person at the office with photo ID and proof of residency. Documents that can be used for proof of residency, in addition to the IDs, include utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, government checks or other government documents.

Absentee ballot applications in Madison Heights can be requested by mail up until 5 p.m. July 31, or in person up until 4 p.m. Aug. 3. In addition, absentee ballot applications can be obtained online at www.madison-heights.org/DocumentCenter/View/3725/AV-application. One can also call the clerk’s office at (248) 583-0826, and the city will send one.

Voters are allowed to return their applications via mail, drop them off in person, or by emailing clerks@madison-heights.org.

Similar to Madison Heights, voters in Hazel Park may apply for an absentee ballot by mail until 5 p.m. July 31, although they may obtain a ballot in person at the Hazel Park City Clerk’s Office, located inside City Hall at 111 E. Nine Mile Road, until 4 p.m. Aug. 3.

The Hazel Park City Clerk’s Office will also be open Aug. 1 — a Saturday — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in order to accept absentee ballot applications. These must be returned by 8 p.m. Aug. 4 in order to be counted.

    
Polling location changes
Several precinct locations have changed in Madison Heights for the upcoming election.

Precinct 2, originally located at the Korean First Central United Methodist Church, has been moved to the Madison Heights Active Adult Center, located at 29448 John R Road.

Precinct 6, originally located at Solberg-Madison Senior Apartments, has been moved to Madison Elementary School, located at 27107 Hales Street.

Precinct 10, originally located at Simonds Elementary School, has been moved to John Page Middle School, located at 29615 Tawas Avenue.

“Changes to precinct locations were made due to building projects, being unable to access the site due to the pandemic and election best practices during a pandemic,” said Cheryl Rottmann, the city clerk of Madison Heights.

The changes for Precinct 2 and Precinct 6 are for both the Aug. 4 and Nov. 3 elections, while the change for Precinct 10 is only for the Aug. 4 election.


Best practices
Due to the pandemic, extra precautions are being taken with in-person voting locations.

“Safety of our workers and voters are of upmost concern,” Rottmann said.

She said that her office will supply face shields, face masks and gloves to election workers. There will be sanitizer stations, and the pens for filling out forms and the secrecy sleeves for ballots will all be one-time use. Social distancing of 6 feet or more will be maintained between voting booths.

Likewise, workers will maintain social distancing between each other, and they will regularly disinfect the voting booths.

“We strongly encourage all voters to wear a mask,” Rottmann added. “If they do not have one, we will have extras on hand.”


Voting trends
According to the Michigan Department of State, requests for absentee ballots this summer have increased by 350 percent, compared to the same time period ahead of the 2016 state primary.

“Michigan voters have embraced their right to vote from home with enormous enthusiasm,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in a statement.

In 2018, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that expanded voting access in various ways, including allowing all voters to vote absentee without providing a reason.

“This significant increase in those requesting to vote by mail already this year confirms they recognize that this option is a safe, secure and convenient way for them to ensure their voices are heard, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Benson, in her statement.

The secretary of state noted that voters should fill out their absentee ballots carefully, and that they should remember that in state primary elections, they can vote for only one party. One can learn more by visiting michigan.gov/vote.

There are also absentee ballots made with accessibility issues in mind, available for voters who are blind or have severe disabilities. These voters can use the accessible application on the absentee voting page of the Michigan Department of State website, and apply there for an accessible electronic ballot that can be marked remotely using assistive technology on an electronic device.

Locally, the absentee voting trend also holds true. As of July 8, the Madison Heights City Clerk’s Office had already issued more than 3,900 absentee ballots, up from around 1,700 in the August 2018 primary, and around 1,400 in the August 2016 primary.

“We expect several hundred more to be issued prior to Election Day, as well, so the increase has more than doubled,” Rottmann said.

James Finkley, the city clerk of Hazel Park, observed similar trends.

“The effects of Proposal 18-3 and COVID-19 have combined to increase absent voter turnout to unprecedented levels,” Finkley said. “As of July 9, more people have chosen to vote by mail in Hazel Park than voted by all methods combined in the 2016 August primary election.

“Voters should also be advised that joining the city’s permanent (absentee voter) list means that they will always receive an (absentee ballot) application, rather than a ballot, which must then be signed and returned if they wish to have a ballot mailed to them.”

Advertisement