Clerks recommend that those who can, vote absentee

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 18, 2016

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With the general election just a few weeks away, local clerks are warning voters about long lines at the polls and encouraging absentee voting for those who qualify.

“If they qualify, I think Nov. 8 there are going to be lines because it’s every eight years that we get huge lines at the polls,” said St. Clair Shores City Clerk Mary Kotowski. “It’s not that I don’t have enough equipment — it’s just more people.

“This is the election where people come out who don’t normally vote.”

There was a 73 percent voter turnout in the 2008 election, Kotowski said.

“That was almost 36,000 St. Clair Shores registered voters voted, either utilizing absentee ballots or at the polls,” she said.

Although population in the city has decreased since then, voter registration has increased from 47,300 to 48,000 just in the last six months.

“They’re coming in,” she said. “People want to vote at this election.”

There are 7.4 million registered voters in the state of Michigan and 622,165 in Macomb County, as of Oct. 9. Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh said in a press release that those who can, should vote absentee.

“In the 2008 presidential election, 117,000 voters voted absentee, and 113,000 did so in 2012,” she said in the statement. “This year, I expect over 125,000 will vote by absentee ballot in Macomb County.”

Voters can download an absentee ballot application from the St. Clair Shores City Clerk’s website at, click on City Clerk, and then click on Election Information. There are six valid reasons why a person may request an absentee ballot in Michigan:

• If the voter is 60 years or older.

• If the voter expects to be away from the community where the voter is registered to vote on Election Day.

• If the voter cannot physically attend the polls without the assistance of another.

• If the tenets of the voter’s religion prevent the voter from attending the polls.

• If the voter is an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than where the voter resides.

• If the voter is in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

Students away at college and those serving in the military can also request an absentee ballot.

“The form is PDF fillable on my website,” Kotowski said.

It is also available at the City Clerk’s Office, 27600 Jefferson Circle Drive.

“If you’re going to be gone (or) there’s a good chance you’re going to be out of the city the entire time (polls are open) ... you can utilize this process,” she said. “There are going to be lines. We’re going to put out every piece of equipment we have.”

“Every eight years, it’s bigger because there’s no incumbent,” she said.

Although the deadline has passed to register to vote, voters can check to see where they are registered to vote — and even double-check that they are registered — at Kotowski said voter registration has to be updated every time you move, even if you stay within the same city, and is not automatic.

Voters can print out a sample ballot there, which saves time at the polls.

“If voters come in knowing what they’re voting for (and) are they at the right precinct,” it saves time for poll workers, Kotowski said. In addition, voters should know that they need photo identification to vote, or they will have to sign an affidavit if they are on the voter registration list.

In addition, sometimes precinct locations have moved in the past eight years, so to save time waiting in line, it’s good to double-check that your precinct is still in the same location. A list of precincts and their locations can be found at Click on City Clerk, then Election Information, then Polling Locations.

Residents can vote at their former precinct if they have moved within 60 days of Election Day, Kotowski said.