Absentee voting numbers up from last midterm


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Recent numbers on absentee voting from West Michigan clerk’s offices forecast high turnout for the upcoming midterm election.

Absentee ballots can be obtained from your local clerk, and you can find contact information online through the Michigan Voter Information Center.

Registered voters have until 2 p.m. Saturday to request an absentee ballot be mailed to them. After that, people may go in person to request and fill out the ballot at their clerk’s office prior to Election Day. After receiving an absentee ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to return it to the clerk’s office to be counted.

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24 Hour News 8 reached out to county clerk’s offices to learn what voting officials are seeing ahead of Tuesday.

Numbers were not available for Kent County as a whole, but the Grand Rapids City Clerk’s Office reported 14,097 absentee ballots requested as of Thursday. More than 8,970 — about 64 percent — have been completed and returned, which is already above what is typically seen during other midterms.

Ottawa County issued 31,002 absentee ballots with 22,935 already returned. That number is closer to the 2016 presidential election than recent midterms, according to Election Coordinator Steven Daitch. In 2014, he said, absentee ballots did not exceed 19,000.

Kalamazoo County also reported higher numbers ahead of Tuesday with 27,054 absentee ballots requested. Return numbers were not available.

Some West Michigan counties reported not being able to track absentee statistics closely due to the number of precincts.

As of Oct. 31, over 24 million early or absentee votes had been counted nationwide. That number already exceeds the total early votes counted during the 2014 midterm election: 21,218,015.

Citing a high level of engagement, officials are also expecting more people to show up to the polls Tuesday than in a typical midterm. Daitch said his team is treating it like a presidential election as they prepare. 

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