As the March 10th Presidential Primary approaches in Michigan, municipal clerks say they are seeing a much greater influx of absentee ballot applications.

In 2018, Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow no-reason absentee voting, with the hope of increasing the percentage of residents taking part in the election process. However, the increased number of absentee ballots that will need to be processed has created concerns about being able to smoothly handle the influx.

In Livingston County, Clerk Betsy Hundley tells WHMI that as of Friday there have been 20,200 requests for an absentee ballot, compared to just over 13,601 in all of 2016. But she doesn’t see that increase as a problem. "The numbers are up. There is no doubt about that. However, our local clerks have been prepared for the increase in these numbers and as any good clerk does, they prepare and plan. They have increased the number of election inspectors that will be working in their counting boards and just yesterday (Thursday) at our local clerks meeting, each and every one of my local clerks, our city and township clerks, feel they are prepared for an increase in these numbers."

That is also the case at the state level, according to Director of External Affairs for the Secretary of State, Jake Rollow. He says preparations for the primary are going well, but reminds voters that whether receiving a ballot by mail, or voting in person on the day of the primary, voters will have to choose between 3 ballots - Democrat, Republican, or non-partisan if they only want to vote on ballot issues unrelated to the primary. Rollow says whichever ballot you choose, goes on the public record. According to the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections, the public list of ballot selections for the presidential primary must be made public within 71 days of the primary, and then destroyed 22 months after. Hundley says it is important to state that while the ballot preference that a voter makes is public record, who they voted for remains strictly confidential.

One of the other reforms enacted in 2018 was allowing voters the ability to register up to 8pm on Election Day. But she says that isn’t something she would hope to see become a common and that best practice would be to vote ahead of time to ensure there are no issues.

For more information, and a link to register to vote, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center, at Local election details can be found online also at

Hundley and Livingston County Election Coordinator Joe Bridgman will also be guests this Sunday morning at 8:30 on WHMI’s Viewpoint. (JK)