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Local Absentee Ballot Requests Soar; Hand Delivery Recommended

With the August primary election less than two weeks away, state officials are advising that absentee ballots no longer be submitted by mail.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says ballots should be hand delivered – either to the relevant clerk’s office, or to a drop box. Ballots that are mailed risk not being delivered in time to be counted.

Residents may still register to vote in the August primary in person at their city or township clerk’s office through 8 p.m. on Election Day. They can also request and submit an absentee ballot at the clerk’s office in the same trip. By law, online and mail voter registration for the primary has ended.

Voters are increasingly choosing to use the absentee, or early voting option. Figures supplied by the Secretary of State’s office show 4,584 ballots have been sent out in Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga and Ontonagon counties. That’s 350 percent higher than the 1,295 that had been issued at the same point in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. It should be noted that 2018 was the last election in which absentee voters had to provide a reason for their request.

Here is the breakdown:
• Houghton County: 2022 – 2,712; 2018 – 713
• Baraga County: 2022 – 734; 2018 – 74
 • Keweenaw County: 2022 – 168; 2018 – 135
 • Ontonagon County: 2022 – 970; 2018 – 370

But, while requests have been way up, the return rate is down. As of Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office indicated that, statewide, only a third of the ballots sent out had been filed. That could be a sign of voter apathy, or a byproduct of voter indecision in the Republican gubernatorial race.

The primary will take place August 2. It is a closed election, meaning that voters must select either the Republican or Democratic party side. Crossing from one party to the other will void the ballot.

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