Macomb County Chief Elections Clerk Michael Grix, left, and Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Fred Miller discuss changes to absentee ballot envelopes that are effective for the March primary.

Macomb County Chief Elections Clerk Michael Grix, left, and Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Fred Miller discuss changes to absentee ballot envelopes that are effective for the March primary.

Photo provided by Macomb County Clerk’s Office


Local clerks highlight new absentee ballot design

Mail-in voting becoming more popular

By: Nick Mordowanec, Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published February 4, 2020

 Blue envelopes are being mailed to the voters, while the green envelopes will be  used to mail the ballots back to clerks.

Blue envelopes are being mailed to the voters, while the green envelopes will be used to mail the ballots back to clerks.

Photo provided by Macomb County Clerk’s Office

OAKLAND/MACOMB COUNTY — Registered voters are seeing a change this year, as envelopes containing absentee ballots have a new look ahead of the March 10 election.

Michael Doyle, communications director for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, said the change comes “after decades without an update.” Now, blue envelopes will be mailed to voters, while green envelopes will be used to mail envelopes back to local clerks.

The modernized design will also include other details that will impact voters and process efficiencies, including: the voter’s signature is on the backside of the envelope, the same side voters will see when sealing the envelope; the ballot label will be on the backside of the envelope, allowing for staff issuing ballots — as well as election inspectors — to view the ballot number without flipping over the envelope; and clear language to explain delivery options.

“The absentee ballot envelopes were modified to better conform with United States Postal Service guidelines and be easier to use,” Doyle said.

Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Fred Miller said the new design strays from the traditional manila envelopes voters are accustomed to. This redesign is aimed as a warning to voters, as to not discard ballots by mistake.

In Oakland County, Clerk Lisa Brown said her office rolled out a promotional program to make residents aware of the change.

“We haven’t gotten any calls about the ballots,” said Nicole Bedi, an administrative assistant to the Oakland County clerk, noting that she can’t speak for the calls that municipal clerks might receive as elections near.

“We believe the education campaign for no-reason absentee (voting) has reached a lot of voters,” Bedi added.

The change was initially announced by Benson after her office worked with clerks statewide. The previous design had resulted in numerous issues for USPS, sometimes leading to ballot misdirection and potential voter disenfranchisement.

It was changed in coordination with the adoption of the state amendment, known as Proposition 3, which was approved by 63% of Macomb County voters and 70% of Oakland County voters.

“We would hate to have anybody inadvertently throw away their ballots,” Miller said.

In November 2019, a total of 12 different Macomb County communities cast more votes by mail than at the polls. About 44,760, or 51.5%, of the approximate 87,000 votes cast that election, were done via mail.

Miller hopes more voters will take advantage of absentee ballots in the future, especially with major elections on the horizon.

“We will do our darndest that all registered (absentee voters) will receive a ballot,” Dolland said. “Through the city cable station, website, city Facebook page, city council meetings and word of mouth, we have advertised the change.”

That’s especially important since the rate of aging residents earning their senior status is quickly growing, and within 10 years, it’s expected that 20% of Americans will be over the age of 60. That outpaces every other age demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In November 2019, a total of 12 different Macomb County communities cast more votes by mail than at the polls. About 44,760, or 51.5%, of the approximately 87,000 votes cast that election were done via mail.

Oakland County’s most recent election showed similar numbers, according to the Clerk’s Office.

This year’s elections will take place March 10, Aug. 4 and Nov. 3.

For more information on voting in Oakland County, visit oakgov.org/clerkrod.