Absentee ballots for the August 2 primary election are now available from local clerks in Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

During the last election cycle, the Secretary of State’s office sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters through the mail. This time, voters wanting to cast an absentee ballot will need to obtain an application themselves, either through their clerk’s office or online at Michigan.gov/vote.

Those voters who wish to vote by mail, must have their applications completed and submitted to their clerk by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 29. Those registered to vote at their current address can request an absent voter ballot in person anytime between now and 4 p.m. on Monday August 1. Those residents who aren’t yet registered or need to update their address can request an absentee ballot at that same time.

Before an absent voter ballot can be issued, the clerk’s office will check that a signature on the application matches that of the voter’s registration record. Likewise an absentee ballot won’t be counted unless the signature on the return envelope matches the voter’s signature on file. Law dictates that only the voter, a family member or person residing in the same household, a mail carrier or election official is authorized to deliver your signed and completed absentee ballot to their clerk’s office.

Absentee ballots make voting more accessible to all people of all ages and political persuasions.

Absentee voting allows residents to examine the ballot and take additional time to decide how they’ll vote.

We all know that life can be unpredictable. It’s only makes sense that those voters with fluid work schedules or fluctuating family commitments take steps to ensure they can cast a ballot despite what comes their way on election day.

They also allow those residents who would only be able to vote in person during peak times to not wait in a long line. Although voter turnout this year won’t likely be as robust as in 2020, most polling places see their biggest crowds in the hours before the polls close at 8 p.m.

Exercising one’s right to vote is important in our democracy. Taking the time now to consider just how you’ll do it can ensure your voice is heard.