Michigan has launched an online platform to allow registered voters another means of digitally requesting an absentee ballot.
On Friday, June 12, the Secretary of State’s office announced the online absentee voter application platform, which is available at Michigan.gov/vote.
To apply for an absentee ballot, registered voters must use their driver’s license or state ID, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. They must also use the online tool to send the handwritten signature they provided for their driver’s license or state ID card.
“The more choices a person has when it comes to exercising their right to vote, the better they are able to make the choice that works best for them” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a prepared statement. “This tool provides another digital option for voters to safely and conveniently apply to receive their absentee ballot, while also offering clerks an easy, cost efficient way of processing the application securely.”
Last month, Benson announced that all registered Michigan voters would be mailed applications to request absentee ballots for the upcoming August and November elections. The effort, she said, is to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While testifying before Congress earlier this month, Benson said there is little evidence of election fraud in Michigan, but “in the rare times it does occur, we catch it and we prosecute it.”
Voters can already submit applications digitally by scanning and emailing their signed applications to clerks. The online platform provides another means for notifying your local clerk of your desire to vote by mail.
Clerks will be alerted of the request and be able to see the application and signature. After verification, local clerks are then able to mail the ballot to the voter within the appropriate time frame for the election they’ve requested to vote absentee.
Voters will still mail back their paper ballots to the clerk’s office, deposit them in a drop box or cast a ballot in person with the clerk by 8 p.m. on election day. Voters must sign the ballot return envelope and the signature must be verified and matched to the voter’s record for the ballot to be counted.
Former Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is among those who have questioned Benson’s decision. Johnson, who is a Republican senator, called it “very troubling” that Benson is "taking unilateral actions with no input and questionable motives.”
President Donald Trump has also opposed the move, calling Benson a “rogue Secretary of State” and threatening to withhold funding to the state for “attempted voter fraud.”
Michigan voters approved no-reason absentee voting during the November 2018 election. Before the proposal passed, absentee voters needed to provide a reason for not being able to vote in-person on election day.
A protest scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 12, is expected to bring participants together outside the DeltaPlex Arena in Walker to burn their absentee ballot applications, according to a Facebook event.
Michigan has been in a state of emergency since March 10. As of Thursday, June 11, it has reported 59,496 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,737 deaths linked to the infectious respiratory virus.