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Michigan Secretary of State will not send absentee ballot request forms to all voters this year

The Michigan Secretary of State office will not be sending absentee ballot request forms to voters this year, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said during a press conference advocating for election reform on Tuesday.

Besides the pandemic causing more to vote from home, Benson said the most prominent factor in sending the request forms in 2020 was the state's 2018 constitutional amendment. The amendment allowed absentee voting for any reason and 2020 was the first major election since the change.

“Now I imagine some local clerks and local election administrators may recognize the fact that sending out absentee ballot request forms to voters directly from election administrators is the most direct and reliable way to educate citizens about their right to vote from home,” Benson said. “And that's exactly why we did it in 2020.”

“But we don't see a lot of those same factors present again in 2022 and that's why we recognize that this is an opportunity for clerks to do it but it's not something our office will be doing in this cycle.”

Benson said her office believes that because over two thirds of voters in the primary and general 2020 elections voted absentee, that they have essentially accomplished their goal of educating citizens about how to vote absentee.

“Now we've seen a significant number of voters know how to access their absentee ballot, how to request it, where to go, and I know and have faith that a lot of our local election administrators will be continuing to communicate with voters about how to request their absentee ballots.”

At the same press conference, Benson urged the legislature to enact policy changes for the 2022 election.

Her proposed policy changes include

  • Allowing pre-processing for absentee ballots seven days prior to election day, citing bills introduced by State Representative Matt Koleszar
  • Stiffer penalties for threatening, harassing or doxxing election workers 
  • Providing $100 million annually directly to county, city and township governments only to be used for election administration, and the security of elections and election officials.
  • Allowing military overseas voters to return ballots electronically.

“Rather than continuing to spread misinformation with legislation and proposals that are in search of non-existent problems,” Benson said. “It is time for our allies and teammates, I hope in the legislature to do the people's work and pass nonpartisan election policies that serve all voters on both sides of the aisle.”

Michigan voters can request an absentee ballot online or returning an application in person or by mail. Voters may also fill out an absentee ballot at their local clerk’s office and submit it while there.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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