Some new-look absentee ballots going back to voters


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There have been a number of changes to the way we vote in Michigan over the last year. The one getting the most attention: no-reason absentee balloting.

“We mailed out about 13,600 ballots and we received about 5,600 back,” Grand Rapids City Clerk Joel Hondorp said.

The state also changed the look of absentee ballots. They now arrive in a blue and white envelope and gone are the manila envelopes for returning them.

“When you mail it back, you’re going to mail it back in this green envelope,” Hondorp said as he showed off the new return envelopes. “All you have to do is put your ballot in, seal it and sign it and date it.”

But there have been reports of some ballots being returned to voters in other parts of the state. The bar codes on envelopes appear to be confusing equipment at the post office. The U.S. Postal Service and Michigan Secretary of State are working on the problem.

The Secretary of State says if your ballot is returned, put it back in the mail or drop it off at your local clerk’s office. You can also check to see if your ballot has been received by going to the Secretary of State’s website.

So far, the Grand Rapids clerk said his office has had no reports of ballots being returned.

“My staff is meeting with the postmaster on Friday, just to make sure that we don’t have any issues,” Hondorp said.

Grand Rapids has included additional information on its envelopes to avoid the problem. If you want to turn in your ballot in person, you can take it to a secured drop-off box on Ottawa Avenue across from City Hall.

“Anytime up to election day, as long as they haven’t returned the ballot, they have other options,” Hondorp said.

>>Online: Grand Rapids election information

Grand Rapids is also holding a series of voter outreach events to make sure everyone’s vote is counted. The first two were Tuesday and Wednesday in the Baxter neighborhood and at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, respectively.

“We wanted to bring the clerk’s services out to the community,” Hondorp said.

Two more outreach events are scheduled. The next on Sunday, March 1, at the city clerk’s new Election Central at 201 Market Avenue SW. The other is on Saturday, March 7, at 201 Market and the Clerk’s Office at City Hall on Monroe Avenue.

The presidential primary is March 10; the county, state and federal primary is Aug. 4; and the general election is Nov. 3.


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