Clerk says don’t put mail-in ballots in toilets after yard sign urges otherwise

    Sign on absentee voting, Mason | Ingham County Clerk photo

    Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said Friday she filed an election violation complaint with law enforcement after a Mason resident placed a sign in their yard that urged voters to put their mail-in ballots in a toilet — yes, a toilet — also installed on the lawn.

    Byrum, a Democratic former state representative, filed the complaint with the Mason Police Department and Ingham County Sheriff’s office earlier this week. The resident registered at the address where the sign and toilet were displayed has voted absentee in the last three elections, according to Byrum — something she deemed “more than a little ironic.”

    Barb Byrum

    Per Michigan law, taking illegal possession of a voted or unvoted absentee ballot is a felony punishable by a $1,000 fine or five years in prison.

    “Elections in this country are to be taken seriously and there are many people who are voting by mail for the first time this election,” Byrum said in a news release. “We need to put out accurate, complete information about voting by mail, which is the safest way to vote during the pandemic. That starts at the top and I worry that the misinformation coming from President Trump is encouraging people to lose faith in the absentee voting process, something that has been taking place since the Civil War.”

    Byrum said voters should return filled-out absentee ballots to their election clerks in-person, place them in clerks’ drop boxes or have them mailed via the U.S. Postal Service, not dump them off in toilets.

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.