Questions and and answers about Absentee Ballots
The November 3, 2020, general election is shaping up to be an historical one for many reasons, with some voters going into it wondering and asking questions.
Locally, governmental officials, specifically the clerks in charge of elections, are taking questions from voters about voting. Many of these questions have to do with absentee voting, which is expected to play a big part in this election.
“In Sylvan Township, I have over 1,300 absentee ballot requests compared to around 400 in the 2016 Presidential election and just about 900 in August 2020,” said Sylvan Township Clerk Kathleen Kennedy on Oct. 3.
One area she said they spend some time answering questions about is regarding straight ticket, split ticket and mixed ticket voting.
She said she hopes voters understand their options and provided The Sun Times News with information from the Bureau of Elections
“Michigan is one of a few states that allow voters to vote “straight ticket” in a general election, which means voters may fill in one oval or box next to a party name to cast a vote for every candidate of that political party,” according to the Bureau of Elections. “Michigan also allows for voters to select the straight party option but then cast votes for individual candidates of a different party (“split ticket”).”
In the November Election, according to Sylvan Township and the Bureau of Election, voters have the following options:
“Straight Ticket” Voting: Voters may vote in the straight party race and select the party of their choosing - this will award votes up to the maximum allowed (and maximum candidates available) for each partisan race for the voter’s chosen party. The candidates receive “indirect votes” based on the voter’s single straight-party ballot selection. For example: Casting a vote for the Ice Cream Party in the straight party race will indirectly cast a vote for all candidates running under that party to the maximum allowed for each race in which the party is participating. If there are any races in which the Ice Cream Party is not participating, no votes will be cast in that race. If the voter wishes to vote in any non-partisan races and proposals, the voter must make selections in these races separately.
“Split Ticket” Voting: Voters may vote in the straight party race and select the party of their choosing, but then vote directly in an individual race (or multiple individual races) by directly voting for a candidate from a different party, voting for a candidate with no party affiliation, or casting a write-in vote. As with straight ticket voting, voting in the straight party race will indirectly cast a vote for all candidates running under that party to the maximum allowed for each race in which the party is participating, except where the voter overrides an indirect vote by a casting direct vote for a candidate of a different party, a candidate with no party affiliation, or a write-in vote. For example: If a voter casts a straight party vote for the Ice Cream Party but directly casts a vote for one individual candidate of the Pie Party, the straight party vote will indirectly cast a vote for all candidates running under the Ice Cream Party to the maximum allowed for each race in which the Ice Cream Party is participating, except for the one race in which the voter cast a vote for the Pie Party candidate. If there are any races in which the Ice Cream Party is not participating, no votes will be cast in that race if no direct vote for another candidate is made. If the voter wishes to vote in any non-partisan races and proposals, the voter must make selections in these races separately.
“Mixed Ticket” Voting: Voters may decline to vote in the straight party race and directly select candidates of their choice from any party (or no party affiliation and write-ins) up to the maximum allowed for each race.
Other Notes: If a voter selects the “straight party” race but then votes for individual candidates of the same party, the vote for those individual candidates will still count, and will only count once. If a voter wishes to vote for a write-in candidate (whether or not they select the straight party option), the voter must fill out the oval for write-in candidate and write the name or it will be an invalid write-in and will not be counted.
Another area being wondered about is the counting of absentee ballots.
On Oct. 6, Washtenaw County Clerk/Register Lawrence Kestenbaum issued this statement:
“Many people are worried that there will be a long delay until absentee ballot counts are released. This fear is groundless.
“Absentee ballots in Michigan are not put aside until later. They are counted at the same time as in-person ballots. The results will be reported at the same time.
“Legislation recently presented to the Governor will give clerks in larger communities an extra day (the day before the election) to work on absentees.
“In addition, communities large and small have acquired additional voting equipment and bolstered the number of poll workers hired to process the volume of absentees expected.
“Given these measures, I'm quite confident that almost every area will quickly have reports from absentee counting boards.
“If you were planning to vote by absentee ballot, there is no reason to change your plans over concerns about delayed processing. Your vote will be promptly counted and reported on Election Night."
According to county clerk’s office, “To date, 134,664 voters in Washtenaw County have been issued an Absent Voter Ballot for the November 3, 2020 General Election. 26,567 have already returned their ballot. There are 310,806 voters currently registered in Washtenaw County."