Washtenaw County joins statewide effort to improve absentee ballot access for first-time voters
The Washtenaw County Clerk’s Office is working with 78 other Michigan counties across Michigan to make sure there are no barriers for first-time voters - especially college students -- to cast their ballots.
College students are advised to register to vote at their primary address. The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 9.
As many college students may not travel to their home counties to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, they may choose to vote absentee, said Ed Golembiewski, director of elections for Washtenaw County.
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
The law is meant to prevent voter fraud by requiring the identity of a first-time voter to be checked in person at the polls -- meaning some college students who registered to vote with a mail-in form for the November election could be denied their request to receive an absentee ballot, Golembiewski said.
Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum has joined clerks in other Michigan counties to streamline the process and make sure first-time voters who did not register to vote in person are able to cast their ballot.
First-time voters in the Ann Arbor area can present their identification and submit an application for an absentee ballot at the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office at 200 N. Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor.
With valid identification, the ballot application will be forwarded to the county clerk where the individual resides to confirm the voter’s residency.
Voters will then receive their official ballot in the mail -- an event that would not have been possible had Michigan clerks not decided to work together, Golembiewski said.
Requests for absentee ballots from voters that fit this description must be received by county clerks by 2 p.m. Nov. 3.
The program is a result of an agreement of the Michigan Association of County Clerks. Many Michigan clerks participated in the program in the 2008 general election, Golembiewski said.
Though he said he's unsure of how many people will take advantage of the opportunity, Golembiewski said it was important that it be offered.
“The option is there,” Golembiewski said. “It’s a situation that alleviates the problem.”