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Benson to mail postcards encouraging voters to apply online to vote from home
Additional funding allocated to support clerks, voters for November election
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced today that she will mail postcards informing voters of their right to vote from home in the November presidential election and encouraging them to do so by applying online or at their local election clerk’s office. The postcards will be mailed from the Michigan Bureau of Elections to the 4.4 million active, registered voters who are not on a permanent absent-voter list and have not already applied to have their November ballot mailed to them.
“Last week’s primary election was a success in large part because a record-number of voters cast their ballots from home, helping all voters and election workers stay safe during the pandemic,” said Benson. “To ensure similar success and safety in November, when turnout is expected to double or even triple, voters must know they have the right to vote from home and how to do so.”
The state will mail the postcards between August 20 and September 20. Michigan law allows voters to apply for their absentee ballot within 75 days of the election starting August 20. Clerks must begin mailing requested ballots to voters 40 days before the election on September 24. The mailing will be paid for with federal funding, and will cost approximately $1.4 million, or 32 cents per voter.
Benson also announced that the Bureau of Elections will allocate an additional $5.5 million to support voters and clerks in expectation that the number of people voting from home will again increase significantly. This additional funding will be allocated as follows:
- $2 million to reimburse jurisdictions that pay postage on ballot return envelopes.
- $1.5 million to jurisdictions that order ballot envelopes redesigned to the standards of the United States Postal Service to be most effectively and efficiently processed through the mail.
- $1 million more for jurisdictions to buy ballot drop boxes, automatic letter openers, and other equipment.
- $1 million more in matching funds for jurisdictions to buy ballot tabulators (counting machines), including high-speed scanners.
“This comprehensive investment — including our mailing of information to voters on how to request to vote by mail, funding return postage for ballots, purchasing more supplies for clerks to process mailed-in ballots and installing more drop boxes throughout the state — will ensure that all voters know how to safely, easily, and freely exercise their right to vote from home,” said Benson. “The only missing piece is action from state lawmakers, who need to do their part to support our elections, clerks and voters.”
Benson has previously called on lawmakers to immediately pass at least three pending bills:
- SB 757 would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day.
- HB 5987 would allow mailed ballots to count if postmarked by Election Day even if they arrive up to two days later.
- HB 5991 would require clerks to contact voters if the signature on the absentee ballot does not match the one on their registration.
The $5.5 million allocation announced today is additional to the $11.2 million of federal funds Benson previously provided for, among other things, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; ballot tabulators, envelope openers and drop boxes; an accessible absentee voting system for people with disabilities; and the previous mailing of absentee applications to all registered voters. The previous allocation included $2 million for personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies, much of which remains to be spent ahead of November after needed items were donated for the August primary election. Both allocations utilize federal funds provided through the CARES Act and Help America Vote Act.
Eligible Michiganders can register to vote now at Michigan.gov/Vote.
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