Election workers are pictured at the West Bloomfield Township Clerk’s Office. Absentee ballots can be cast without having to include a reason.

Election workers are pictured at the West Bloomfield Township Clerk’s Office. Absentee ballots can be cast without having to include a reason.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WB clerk anticipates a significant increase in voter participation this year

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 23, 2020

 West Bloomfield Clerk Debbie Binder anticipates a “historically high turnout” at this year’s elections.

West Bloomfield Clerk Debbie Binder anticipates a “historically high turnout” at this year’s elections.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield Clerk Debbie Binder is expecting a “historically high turnout” at this year’s elections.

The primary election is Aug. 4, followed by the presidential election in November.

The right citizens have to vote via an absentee ballot could significantly increase the amount of votes cast.

“We’re trying to encourage people to vote absentee this election because of COVID,” Binder said. “Absentee voting is a right every Michigan voter was given. It was voter approved as part of Proposal 3 of 2018. Prior to that, voters needed to include a reason why they were choosing to vote absentee.”

Typically, Binder said about 39%-40% of votes cast are via absentee ballots in larger elections. She speculated as to what the numbers might be this year.

“We anticipate that we’re going to have probably between a 70% and 80% turnout, where we had originally predicted a 40%-50% turnout,” Binder said. “We believe 50-plus percent will be cast by absentee ballot. With COVID, we think it may even be higher — 60%-70% will be cast by absentee ballot.”

According to a release that was issued from the Michigan Secretary of State prior to press time, with more than 1.8 million requested and more than 600,000 already returned. According to the release, that is more than double compared to the same time in 2016.

Binder thinks that what will get the attention of voters is “the fact that everybody will receive notification that there’s an upcoming election.”

The application is good for both the August and November elections, and Binder anticipates the notification will help to drive a surge in numbers.

But for as positive as it may seem to have a larger amount of votes cast this year, the subject of absentee ballots can be a controversial one. Some are of the opinion that it can increase the risk for voter fraud.

However, Binder described it as a “very secure process.”

“People who participate in working elections find out quickly just how secure the ecosystem is for absentee ballots,” she said. “We mail out applications to people, or they send in an application they found online with the township or state. We verify the signature before we send a ballot. Then, when we receive a ballot, we verify the signature. … There are many checks and balances in place for absentee voting, as well as the signature verification that takes place at both levels, once we receive the application, and again when we receive a ballot.”

Tammy Neeb is the clerk and acting city manager for Keego Harbor. Like Binder, she doesn’t think there needs to be concern about the security of votes being cast via absentee ballots.

“We have to check signatures of every person that fills out the application,” Neeb said. “We have to check their signature with ones already on file. So if they don’t match up, we have to verify it. … You don’t just get the ballot sent. We have to get that application back, or you don’t get a ballot sent to you.”

Another right voters were given in 2018 is same-day registration. Binder said that while she does not minimize the importance of that right for voters, she does encourage people to plan ahead and try to register early when they can.

Aside from encouraging people to work an election so they can discover for themselves how secure she considers the system to be, there is another reason Binder wants some to take part in the process.

“Looking at some of our vulnerable populations, we’re trying to look at some of our healthier populations to get involved this year because we would like to give some of the more vulnerable populations a break for this year while there is a concern about the pandemic,” Binder said.

Binder also wants people to be aware that, on the partisan section of a ballot, voters have to vote all Democrat or all Republican. If that is not adhered to, the partisan section of a ballot will not be counted.

To request an application for an absentee ballot, or if there are any questions, call (248) 451-4848 or send an email to dbinder@wbtownship.org.

After signatures have been verified, voters can expect a ballot to be sent.

On the ballot
In the worldwide pandemic that has halted or altered many aspects of daily life, people who choose to vote by absentee ballot or who go to the polls will find a weighty set of choices before them.

The official candidate list from the Oakland County Elections Division is 30 pages of candidates for races spanning from U.S. Senate at the top to judges and local offices at the bottom. Included in there are races for state Legislature, Oakland County executive, sheriff and more, as well as judgeships. The West Bloomfield supervisor, clerk, treasurer, trustee and parks commission spots are all unopposed in the primaries.

West Bloomfield residents will decide whether to renew a parks and recreation millage. The ballot language for that is below. For a complete article on that issue, read "West Bloomfield Parks and recreation millage to be on the ballot in August." For election results, check back to candgnews.com Aug. 5

Renewal of Existing Parks and Recreation Millage
Shall the millage previously authorized by the electors in 2008 authorizing the Charter Township of West Bloomfield to levy up to .2286 mills as reduced by required millage rollbacks to a levy of .2187 mills in 2019, be renewed at and increased up to the original voted .2286 mills ($.2286 per $1,000 of taxable value) and levied for 10 years, 2021 through 2030 inclusive, after the millage expiration in 2020? The renewal millage shall be used only for acquisition, development, maintenance, and operation of Township parks and places of recreation by the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission. Approval of this proposal would permit a tax levy of up to $.2286 per $1,000.00 of taxable value on all taxable property in the Charter Township of West Bloomfield as reduced by required millage rollbacks. It is estimated that this proposal would result in the authorization to collect $885,669 in the first year the millage is levied.