Benson will mail postcards to promote absentee voting

    Drop box for absentee ballots in Detroit | Ken Coleman

    Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday that she will mail postcards informing voters of their right to vote from home in the November presidential election. She will encourage them to do so by applying online or at their local election clerk’s office.

    “Last week’s primary election was a success in large part because a record-number of voters cast their ballots from home, helping all voters and election workers stay safe during the pandemic,” said Benson through a news release. “To ensure similar success and safety in November, when turnout is expected to double or even triple, voters must know they have the right to vote from home and how to do so.”

    The mailing will be paid for with federal funding, and will cost about $1.4 million, or 32 cents per voter. About 2.5 million Michigan residents voted in the Aug. 4 primary election. Nearly 1.6 million of them cast their ballot by absentee. The postcards will be mailed from the Michigan Bureau of Elections to the 4.4 million active registered voters who are not on a permanent absent-voter list and have not already applied to have their November ballot mailed to them. They will be mailed between Aug. 20 and Sept. 20. State law allows voters to apply for their absentee ballot within 75 days of the election starting Aug. 20. Clerks must begin mailing requested ballots to voters 40 days before the election on Sept. 24. 

    Benson also announced that the Bureau of Elections will allocate an additional $5.5 million in federal funds to support voters and clerks in expectation that the number of people voting from home will again increase significantly. She continued her call on the Michigan Legislature to pass three bills:

    •   SB 757, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day.
    •   HB 5987, sponsored by Rep. Vanessa Guerra (D-Bridgeport Township), would allow mailed ballots to count if postmarked by Election Day even if they arrive up to two days later.
    •   HB 5991 , sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), would require clerks to contact voters if the signature on the absentee ballot does not match the one on their registration.
    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.