By Jim Newell
The general election is Nov. 3, when voters will cast ballots for national, state and local elections, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and the ease of voting by mail-in ballot, many voters are choosing that option instead of showing up at the polls.
Orion Township Clerk Penny Shults is expecting high absentee voter requests, but knows that many people will still want to head to the polls.
(See next week’s issue for some updates on voting in-person.)
“I would love to have 100 percent of our voters vote. It’s our civic duty. People need to get out and vote,” Shults said, adding that Orion Township has 30,034 registered voters, with 12,250 people on the permanent absentee voter list.
“We’ve already received close to 10,000 applications to request a voter ballot,” Shults said. “But in that group, we had to pull out approximately 5,000 duplicates. So, we couldn’t even begin to process applications until we got those duplicates out of our working file. And that stack of duplicates was probably two to three feet high.
“It was a lot of intense work to get that list to its actual 9,910 applications that were ready to have ballots issued because it allowed us to be more efficient,” Shults said. “The problem we’re having is that people are sending duplicates in because they’re getting them in the mail from political parties or the secretary of state and it’s really creating a problem. If you look at the numbers, almost 50 percent of those weren’t needed.
“Voters need to be mindful not to keep sending those in. Once they get their application to us, we will get their ballot to them,” Shults said. “They don’t need to keep sending us two and three and four applications.”
On Friday, the clerk’s office delivered close to 7,000 ballots to the Lake Orion Post Office.
“A lot of those all already hitting mailboxes this week. The other 3,000 should be mailed out on Tuesday,” Shults said.
Voters should expect their ballots this week or next. “We’re telling people the first week in October,” Shults said.
Before the presidential primary in March, voters could request a dual application – for the presidential primary and the general election.
“A lot of the voters filled that out at that time, asking for both the November and the March (elections),” Shults said, adding that dual application did not apply for the August primary election.
“And so, there’s some confusion on the part of voters because of the way the application process was, and the application available to us from the secretary of state. That definitely has created, I think, where a lot of voters aren’t sure if they did,” Shults said.
There will also be ballot drop boxes in front of Orion Township Hall, 2525 Joslyn Rd. The clerk’s office will be removing the contents multiple times per day.
“The thing we want to be mindful of is, it’s not just an absent voter environment; it’s a precinct voter environment as well. A lot of people want to go to the precincts. And we will have all 15 precincts open in Orion Township, as usual. People can go to their precinct and vote in-person as well.
All 15 township precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. The Review will publish the precinct locations in the next issue.