There are ten days left before Election Day. But, City Clerks around West Michigan are encouraging people to vote absentee ballot. They're expecting big crowds and long lines. As such, they want to make sure everyone gets a chance to make their vote count.
Voter turnout is always higher during presidential elections. This year, it's expected to be upwards of 80 percent in many precincts. That increases the chances of unexpected problems and voters losing their patience at the polls.
One way to mitigate that is voting by absentee ballot. And, that is why many city clerks, including Grand Rapids' are trying to persuade people to do so.
"It is another opportunity to study your candidates the proposals, study the races and vote your ballot in the convenience of your home and then return it before election day," said Darlene O'Neal, Grand Rapids City Clerk.
While this type of effort may not be unprecedented, it's definitely not something you hear election officials pushing very often. Chalk it up to one more way this presidential election is different from any we've seen in recent history.
Of course, there are eligibility requirements to vote by absentee ballot in Michigan. According to the Secretary of State's Office, they include:
- You must be a registered voter.
- age 60 years old or older
- unable to vote without assistance at the polls
- expecting to be out of town on election day
- in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
- unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
- appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
- A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates.
The Grand Rapids City Clerk's Office continues to have extended office hours to allow for in-person absentee voting. The remaining dates and times are as follows:
Sunday, Oct. 30 from Noon – 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
You can also contact the clerk's office during regular business hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.