Need to Know: Changes to Absentee Voter Law
Voters must choose a specific partisan ballot in the upcoming presidential primary election, but West Bloomfield Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy said voters are confused about this new law.
The Feb. 28 presidential primary election in Michigan is more than seven weeks away. Voters in West Bloomfield who are 60 or older or are in a situation where they are unable to go to the polls must mail absentee ballots in advance.
Unfortunately, as Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy wrote in a news release Friday, some voters are confused by a new state law on the ballot election request form that renders the Clerk unable to send them a ballot.
When requesting an absentee ballot, voters must now choose a partisan ballot. To not notice or to ignore this new requirement means that a new ballot request form must be sent in after the Clerk's office notifies the voter.
Shaughnessy referred to Public Act 163 of 2011, enacted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, which determines the conduct of the presidential primary election: "Voters must request either a Republican or a Democratic ballot for the Feb. 28 election. If voters do not choose one of those ballots on their absentee voter application, we cannot send them a ballot," Shaughnessy wrote.
"We are contacting all voters not checking the Republican or Democratic ballot request box on their applications," Shaughnessy wrote. "It is important that everybody has a chance to make their voice heard in this most important election."
Call Clerk's office at 248-451-4848 with questions
According to the township clerk, a separate absentee voter ballot request must be submitted for each election unless the voter asks to be placed on the permanent absent voter ballot list. Those who qualify for the permanent list will be mailed an absentee voter ballot 75 days before the election.
If you're not a permanent absent voter, however, you can still submit an absent voter ballot. To obtain the ballot, call the clerk's office (248-451-4848) to have the ballot mailed to you or download and print the form for submission. When the form is completed, you can mail, fax, or deliver it to the clerk's office — and you also can use the township's drop box at Town Hall to deliver it any time.
If you want the ballot mailed, your application must be received by 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election, or Feb. 25.
Absent voter ballots are available for all elections. According to the form, you may vote with an absent voter ballot if:
- You are unable to vote without assistance;
- You are 60 years of age or older;
- You expect to be absent from the township on election day;
- You are in jail, awaiting arraignment or trial;
- You have been assigned to work as a precinct worker in a precinct other than where you are registered; or
- You are unable to attend the polls because of religious beliefs.
If you are temporarily outside the United States, you can use a Federal Postcard Application to apply for an absent voter ballot. The FPCA must be signed under oath unless you, your spouse or your parents are serving in the armed forces or Merchant Marine.
A voter eligible to vote by absent voter ballot may also vote in person at the clerk’s office any time up to 4 p.m. the day before the election, or up to 4 p.m. Feb. 27.
All absent voter ballots must be received by the clerk’s office not later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Oakland County lets you track when the clerk's office received your application, mailed your ballot and received it back. Use the Absentee Ballot Tracker.