Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on May 19 announced that all of the state’s 7.7 million registered voters will be mailed absentee ballot applications so they can take part in the August and November elections amid the CCP virus pandemic.
The decision to mail out applications is part of an effort to avoid crowded polling places and maintain social distancing for millions of registered and voting Michiganders.
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said in a statement. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
Benson noted that in 50 elections held across the state on May 5, there was a “record-breaking turnout,” with nearly 25 percent of eligible voters casting ballots and 99 percent of them doing so by mail or in a drop box. “From 2010 to 2019, average turnout in local elections in May was 12 percent,” she said.
“The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum want the option to vote by mail,” she said. “Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate, and secure.”
About 1.3 million voters are already on a permanent absentee voter list out of Michigan’s 7.7 million registered voters, meaning they are automatically mailed ballot applications by local election clerks before every election.
Additionally, some jurisdictions are mailing applications to all local registered voters. The Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections has ensured all remaining 6.4 million registered voters are able to receive an application.
“We appreciate that some clerks are proactively protecting public health by mailing applications to all their registered voters, and we are fulfilling our responsibility to provide all voters equal access,” Benson said. “We know from the elections that took place this month that during the pandemic Michiganders want to safely vote.”
The application mailing (pdf) from the Bureau of Elections includes a cover letter with instructions from Benson. Once a voter signs their application, they can mail it or email a photo to their local clerk, whose contact information is included on the application. The application is also available for download at michigan.gov where voters can also register and join the permanent absent voter list so they always have the option to vote by mail.
“The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum want the option to vote by mail,” said Benson. “Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate, and secure.”
However, in an April 8 tweet President Donald Trump wrote: “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
The president won Michigan by about 10,000 votes in 2016, beating Hillary Clinton, and is up for reelection in November.