What Is Absentee Voting?Absentee Voting (sometimes called Vote By Mail) is the process whereby voters receive their ballot prior to the election and then submit their voted ballot to their local clerk in a sealed envelope to be kept secure until election day. On election day, ballots are opened by a team of election inspectors and fed into tabulators in a secure room. Workers are required to follow established procedures and work in teams to make sure all ballots are counted accurately. At the end of the night, the tabulators report the results just the same as the tabulators in the in-person precincts.
Voter signatures are checked on the application form against the signature on file with the Secretary of State's Qualified Voter File prior to issuing the absentee ballots and checked again when the ballot is returned to the clerk. If signatures don't match, the clerk's staff takes additional steps to ascertain the validity of the ballot by contacting voters and requiring additional documentation. Those applying for ballots in person in the clerk's office are asked to show photo identification in addition to checking their signatures.
Absentee voting is not required; it is a convenience that allows voters to avoid lines on election day and allows time to study the candidates and proposals on the ballot.
Requirements of Absentee Voters
In 2018, Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment giving all registered voters the right to use the absentee ballot process. You must fill out an application prior to each election before we can send out your ballot. It’s a simple form that requires little time. You may download the application form, fill it out and then fax it to 616.940.4884 or email it to our offices or come to our offices during business hours.
How to Absentee Vote
There are two ways to vote absentee:
- At City Hall. Stop by during business hours and we will issue your ballot to you at that time (if they are available). You can vote in the office or take your ballot home to look over and return when finished. The exception to this rule is that absentee voters must complete their ballots in the office the day immediately prior to an election. The ballot must be requested in person and cannot be taken home.
By Mail.Absentee ballot applications downloaded from our website must be sent back to our office:
- Mail using address on the right
- Fax to 616-940-4884
- Scan and email
Automatic Application List
The city maintains a database of those who wish to receive an absentee ballot application automatically before each election. You must still complete and return the application to receive a ballot, but we will automatically send the application to you approximately 60 days before each election.
If you are interested in receiving an application automatically prior to each election, simply check the automatic application list box on your next absentee ballot request, or contact the elections administrator at 616-949-2110 to be added to the automatic application list.
We are available to answer questions about any aspect of the voter registration or balloting process. Contact the elections administrator at 616-949-2110.