This year, 2020, will go down in history for many reasons and the November 3 general election is likely to be one of them.
Pair a pandemic with anticipated record voter turnout plus the associated high demand for absentee ballots and the convergence of those factors is one that experts will probably study for years to come.
It’s worth pointing out that record voter turnout is a good problem to have. The fact that more than the usual number of citizens want their voice heard is something to be celebrated but it certainly puts the pressure on clerks and election officials to handle the volume. The state’s August primary set a new record when 2.5 million Michiganders voted. In Lapeer and St. Clair counties, anywhere between 35 and 40 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the primary. Typically, primaries only net participation below 20 percent. For the general election, more than 3.1 of the state’s 8 million registered voters will cast an absentee ballot. Total voter turnout in 2016 was 4.7 million.
Because that obvious desire is there, it’s important for public entities and the media to do all they can to help voters be informed and accomplish their task.
Considering the uncertainty that we’ve all endured in 2020 so far, voting advocates are encouraging citizens to make an actual plan to vote and not leave that opportunity up to chance. Those plans should include everything from deciding how and when to vote. As a reminder, Michigan residents can register to vote or change their address as late as election day and complete an absentee ballot on the spot.
Those already registered at their current address, can request an absent voter ballot in person until 4 p.m. on the day prior to the election.
As to when, election officials are urging absentee voters to hand deliver their ballots to their municipal offices or deposit them in a drop box at that same location. Because of potential delays, voters are advised to not return ballots via the mail at this point in the election cycle. Those voting in person can pick the time most convenient for them between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you’d rather not wait too long in line, local clerks say that early morning and post-workday are typically the busiest times at the polls.
In preparation to vote, we hope that you’ve turned to trusted sources of information, like the Tri-City Times, to determine your stance on issues and candidates.
Finally, when election day arrives, we trust that those voting in person will show patience and grace for their fellow voters and those working at the polls. This year especially, election workers are under a lot of pressure to answers voters questions, follow the rules and stay safe while maintaining the integrity of the election process.