This page talks about how absentee voting helps voters fill out the whole ballot, accurately, and what happens when, because we feel rushed or uninformed, we don’t accomplish that.
This page also has a FAQs section where your Precinct Delegates answer questions or concerns that we’re steadily receiving from our neighbors about absentee voting.
Two Voting Problems:
(2) Voting for the Wrong Candidate
(1) “Roll-off” is the term for when we vote for the top races (President, Governor), then skip parts of the ballot farther down.
How often does this happen in Precinct 3-7?
The contests in the “non-partisan” part of the ballot – the part where no party affiliation is listed – were important – as important as electing a governor – in 2018. Once encountering the full ballot in the voting booth, however voters often left several boxes blank.
277 of the 1017 of us who voted for Governor, did not vote for any candidate for University of Michigan Regent. Some incumbent regents were challenged for failing to deal with soaring tuition, compensation for lecturers who do the bulk of the teaching, and environmental sustainability. The differences among candidates was striking, and despite the “non-partisan” nature of the race, all had publicly declared party affiliations.
371 did not vote for any candidate for MSU Trustee. In the run-up to the 2018 election, some incumbent trustees, and interim President John Engler, were criticized for the way they dealt with issues like campus sexual assault. https://trustees.msu.edu/.
Fortunately, Democratic-endorsed candidates for these boards won. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/06/michigan-education-boards-msu-um-wsu-results-winners/1825453002/
Things did not go so well in the race for Michigan Supreme Court, however:
(2) Voting for a candidate who does not share your values is too easy on the non-partisan ballot, and case in point is the Michigan Supreme Court race. 2018 was both a Blue Wave year, and The Year of the Woman. Two incumbent Republicans ran, a woman and a man, as did two Democratic challengers, Megan Cavanaugh and Sam Bagenstos. Some voters who voted Democratic for Governor, didn’t vote for any Supreme Court candidate (“fall-off”), or voted just for 1 when it said vote for 2.
Some proudly “voted for the woman” (a great idea for Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General in 2018!) and inadvertently sent a GOP-endorsed female incumbent back to the Supreme Court. This left Sam Bagenstos, a law professor and civil rights lawyer with an impressive record of fighting for women’s rights, finishing fourth and out of the running.
Michigan Democrats could have flipped the court from years of anti-consumer, anti-labor and pro-monopoly domination, but just missed the opportunity. In contrast to Democratic voting habits, data we have from predominantly Republican precincts show that Republicans knew exactly who they wanted to vote for. They got only half of what they wanted, and it was enough to keep the Supreme Court in conservative hands.
How Absentee Voting Helps Stop “Roll-off” & Ballot Mistakes
You’d probably prefer to vote the whole ballot, and gather enough information before you vote. Your Precinct Delegates want to assist you in any way we can. First, though, give yourself the chance to sit down with your ballot at home, check your notes, look things up and call people. Vote by mail using your new absentee voting rights!
We know from a comprehensive study of states that adopted voting by mail early on, that roll-off and inaccurate voting is not as much of a problem when you can vote at a time and place of your choosing. http://stanford.edu/~wpmarble/docs/rolloff_feb_2016.pdf
Q: Will my ballot be counted – even if the result isn’t close and it won’t affect the outcome, say?
A: “All returned absentee ballot envelopes are processed and tabulated on Election Day. Absentee ballots are counted by an absent voter counting board and the votes are applied to each voter’s assigned ward and precinct along with all of the in-person votes cast on Election Day.” Source: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Elections/Pages/Voting.aspx
“Yes. They are counted on Election Day along with all ballots voted at the polls.” Source: https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-5647_12539_29836-202479–,00.html
Q: What about in a close recount – do they still count the absentee ballots?
A: The only thing that stops a recount in progress is if the person demanding the recount withdraws their petition for a recount, a court orders it stopped, or a deadline for submission of the recount is reached. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Recount_Process_Summary_REV_August_2018_629821_7.pdf
Q: The election is getting close. How do I know my Application for Absentee Ballot is being processed timely, and I’ll get my ballot?
A: “Check the status of your absentee ballot request at www.michigan.gov/vote” There, you’ll see these search options:
“View your Sample Ballot for the upcoming election
Track the status of your Absentee Ballot
Verify your Voter Registration Information”
Q: I didn’t receive my absentee ballot, it’s election day, and now I just want to go and vote in person. But I’ve already applied for an absentee ballot. Can I still vote in person?
A: Yes. Just go to your polling place, and fill out an affidavit saying that you applied for but did not receive your absentee ballot. Source: A local voter to whom this actually happened in August, 2019.
The whole story on absentee ballots in the City of Ann Arbor: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Elections/Pages/Voting.aspx
Q: What if a voter needs to vote from another country – military or simply abroad during election day?
A: If you are out of the country, and need the ballot mailed to a foreign address, use this form instead of the normal Application for Absentee Ballot or Permanent Absentee Voter Form. See https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633-238835–,00.html. Download a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) instead.
This form is key, because it allows the voter to list a foreign address at which to receive the ballot.