Benson: Return your ballot in person to make sure it’s counted 

    Absentee ballot | Susan J. Demas

    With Election Day two weeks away, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday said that nearly half of the 3 million absentee ballots requested have been returned. 

    “Voters who already have their absentee ballot should hand-deliver it to their city or township election clerk’s office or ballot drop box,” Benson said. “Voters who still plan to request an absentee ballot should visit their clerk’s office to make the request in person, and fill out and submit the ballot all in one trip.”

    Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at Louis Pasteur Elementary School on Primary Election Day Aug. 4, 2020 | Ken Coleman

    As of Monday, more than 1.5 million state residents had already cast absentee ballots. Benson reiterated that only absentee ballots received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 can be counted. She also said voters should not risk possible postal delays this close to the deadline. 

    “We have worked to ensure every citizen has a right to vote absentee in Michigan and have implemented multiple levels of secure protocols and best practices that have been time-tested over decades in other states,” said Benson. “That’s why we can say with confidence that only valid absentee ballots will be counted, and they will be tabulated by bipartisan pairs of election workers trained to ensure votes are tallied without political bias and in accordance with elections law.”

    In the August primary, 2.5 million Michigan residents voted with 1.6 million voting absentee. 

    Benson, a Democrat, also said voting at polling places on Election Day will be safe and secure. Sites will have COVID-19-related personal protective equipment, which will include masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer. In addition, social distancing will be practiced.

    Here’s your guide to voting in Michigan

    On Friday, Benson issued a directive to prevent voter intimidation, clarifying that the open carry of firearms is not permitted in or within 100 feet of voting locations on Election Day.

    “The right to vote is one of our most – if not the most – fundamental and sacred constitutional rights we hold as American citizens,” Benson said. 

    A legal challenge is expected to be filed.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.