LANSING — One million Michigan residents have not returned requested absentee ballots, and experts say it’s probably too late to mail them back in time to be counted for the Nov. 3 election.
Because of postal delays, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson instead urged voters Tuesday to drop off ballots at local clerk’s offices or a drop box.
“We are too close to Election Day, and the right to vote is too important, to rely on the Postal Service to deliver absentee ballots on time,” Benson said in a statement.
“Citizens who already have an absentee ballot should sign the back of the envelope and hand-deliver it to their city or township clerk’s office or ballot drop box as soon as possible. Voters who haven’t yet received their ballot should go to their clerk’s office to request it in person. They can fill it out, sign the envelope and submit it all in one trip.”
Election officials across the state are sharing similar warnings, urging Michiganders to return ballots in person in the final week before Election Day, when they can also choose to vote at the polls instead.
The U.S. Postal Service has urged voters to mail in their ballots no later than today as a “common-sense measure” to ensure they arrive by Election Day.
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The warning follows a recent report that found southeast Michigan has the worst on-time delivery rate in the nation, with 70 percent of mail delivered within five days compared to 86 percent nationwide.
To date, 3.1 million Michiganders have requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election, according to the Secretary of State. About 2.1 million have returned ballots that clerks have screened to ensure their signatures match state records, as required.
You can track the status of your ballot on the Secretary of State’s website.
Some of those outstanding absentee ballots may already be in the mail, but with fears of delays persisting, voters who have not yet sent theres in yet should just “take that variable out of the equation” said Secretary of State spokesperson Jake Rollow.
Voters who have requested but not yet received an absentee ballot should also consider visiting their local election clerk to get another one, Rollow said.
“If they requested it two days ago and it hasn’t arrived, sure they can give it a day or two,” he said. “But if they requested it more than a week ago and it hasn’t arrived, they should head over to their clerk’s office. It’s just to close and there’s no reason to have that uncertainty looming.”
Detroit, in particular, struggled to keep pace with the massive volume of absentee ballot requests, Rollow said, but he noted the state has helped the city hire more than 100 additional staffers, some of whom have already been working to process requests at the TCF Center.
“My understanding is that Detroit at this point is basically caught up, if not completely caught up,” he said.
“At this point, if you [live in Detroit and] haven't received your absentee ballot and you asked for it a while ago, the best solution for you to ensure that you're able to vote and vote absentee is to just head over to the clerk's office” or one of the city’s 23 satellite locations, Rollow said.
“Detroiters can head over to those, request their ballot in person, fill it out and submit it right there.”