Early voting centers for the Nov. 8 election will soon open for business across Detroit.
The Secretary of State last week began mailing absentee ballots to Michigan voters. The ballots can be returned via mail or in-person by visiting absentee ballot drop box locations or any of the city’s 13 new early voting centers established through a citywide voter participation campaign.
Matt Friedman, a spokesman for the nonpartisan Detroit Votes 2022 campaign, said the voting centers will make it easier for Detroiters to take advantage of Michigan’s universal absentee voting option. Detroiters can request and fill out an absentee ballot or drop off a completed ballot at the early voting centers beginning Oct. 17 and through Nov. 7. Friedman said the increased access to voting options is part of a larger effort to improve election turnout and encourage Detroiters to make civic participation a habit.
“Because of the sheer size of the city geographically, it’s not necessarily convenient to go to the City Clerk’s office and take advantage of these (early voting) options,” Friedman said. “What the City of Detroit has done is created neighborhood absentee voting options which are essentially early voting options … These are mostly community buildings that people are familiar with in their neighborhoods.
“They can pick up an absentee ballot, they can request an absentee ballot, they can fill it out on site and submit it safely and securely in one visit,” he said.
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Early voting is still relatively new to Michigan. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot thanks to an amendment to the state Constitution that took effect in 2020. Voting in person remains an option for Detroiters who would rather wait until Election Day.
Voters have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 to request that an absentee ballot be sent to them in the mail. City voters also can pick up an absentee ballot by visiting an early voting center before 4 p.m. on Nov. 7. The centers are open during regular business hours on weekdays and will be opened the weekend before Election Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Absentee ballots must be received by the clerk before 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Ballots can be turned in at an early voting center or any of seven drop box sites. The drop boxes are monitored 24/7 by surveillance cameras to ensure the ballots are safe and secure.
Voters who wish to mail their ballot are recommended to do so by Oct. 25 to ensure it arrives on time. Detroiters can also call the City Clerk at (313) 224-3270 before 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 to request that ballots be picked up at their homes.
You can track the status of your absentee ballot online here.
Eligible voters can register to vote online with a valid Michigan ID or submit an application by mail until Oct. 24. Voters also can register in-person at the clerk’s office and vote on the spot on Election Day before polls close at 8 p.m.
The Detroit Votes 2022 campaign is a collaborative effort between private entities and multiple city departments. Voters Not Politicians, a political advocacy group that organized the petition drive that allowed for universal absentee voting, awarded the City of Detroit $80,000 in grant funding to support the campaign.
The Detroit Pistons are also a partner in the effort. The Pistons are sponsoring billboards featuring Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey to encourage Detroiters to vote. Employees of the team and former players are hosting a Thursday awareness event at the Pistons Performance Center, 690 Amsterdam St.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department customers recently received a reminder to register for the upcoming election in their billing statement. The city’s Department of Neighborhoods is conducting a citywide door-to-door canvass ahead of the general election to remind Detroiters of the many ways they may cast their ballots in the city.
Mayor Mike Duggan also has asked city departments to provide nonpartisan voter registration information when residents contact them. Detroit’s social media platforms and website will promote information about voting options as well.
“Now that absentee ballots are coming out, Detroiters are going to be hopefully hearing a lot about this in the next few weeks,” Friedman said.
Detroit Votes 2022 expects to visit 100,000 homes before Nov. 8. The campaign knocked on 15,000 doors before the August primary election.
Turnout in the August primary, where voters decided which candidates will run as their party’s nominee in November, was 15%. Only 77,740 of Detroit’s 504,215 registered voters cast a ballot. More Detroiters are expected to participate in the general election – 41% of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, for comparison – but turnout remains lower than city officials would like.
Detroit’s turnout lagged 20 percentage points behind the statewide average of 74% in 2020. The Brennan Center for Justice recorded a large gap in turnout between white voters and people of color.
Additional information about the 2022 election is available at Michigan.gov/Vote. Residents can use the website to register online until Oct. 24, check registration status, request an absentee ballot, find their local clerk’s office and absentee ballot drop box locations, polling site and to track their absentee ballot.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the date of when new early voting centers will open throughout Detroit. BridgeDetroit was provided an incorrect opening date in an early version of this story.