The August 4th primary elections will be the first in Washtenaw County since no-reason absentee voting was approved in Michigan in last November's general election. Add in COVID-19, and this is a much different election kind of election. 89.1 WEMU's David Fair checked in with Washtenaw County director of elections Ed Golembiewski about all that is and still need to be done before the polls open next Tuesday.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, every single polling location in Washtenaw County will be open to those who choose to cast an in-personal ballot. Safety precautions are being taken at all of those locations. Among other things, poll workers will wear personal protection equipment and every voting booth will be cleaned and sanitized after each person votes. Depending on turnout, that has the potential to cause some long lines on election day.
Washtenaw County elections director Ed Golembiewski reports that as of Monday, July 27th, a record number of absentee ballot applications have been submitted. 95,696 absentee ballots have been mailed out in Washtenaw County. The previous record was around 47,000 in the November 2018 general election. Golembiewski attributes the increase to the combination of pandemic and availability of no-reason absentee voting. Because of the increase in the number of absentee ballots, Golembiewski says getting final election results may take "into the wee hours of the morning."
It is recommended, if you are voting absentee, you mail those ballots in right away. Any ballot not recieved by mail on election day will not be counted. So far, Golembiewski says only about 1/3 of mailed ballots have been returned. The alternative is to fill out the ballot and return it to your city or township clerk's office by 8pm on election night, August 4th. Any ballot turned in after 8pm will be disqualified. If voting in person, anyone in line when the polls close at 8pm will be allowed to vote.
Many believe there could be record voter turnout for the November general election. Golembiewski says new records for absentee balloting will be set again. That could mean full, local results may not become available until at least the following day. Turnout for the primary election is predicted at between 40 and 45-percent.
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