Grand Rapids opens new ‘Election Central’ office

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids on Monday opened a new office where citizens can get ready to vote.

Election Central is on the second floor of the city building at 201 Market Ave. SW. It will be open noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays) through March 10.

“We were looking for a location that we could have better access for voters,” City Clerk Joel Hondorp explained the new office in a video produced by the city. “And also with the high volume increase of absentee ballots (since Michigan instituted no-reason absentee voting), we weren’t able to have all those ballots at City Hall in the Clerk’s Office. We were running out of space.”

Hondorp says Grand Rapids had about 16,000 absentee ballots during the 2016 presidential election.

“Sounds like a lot,” he said. 

However, he adds that the city sent about the same amount for the mayoral race last November. 

“So, if that’s any indicator of where absentee ballots are going, we could be pushing 30,000 to 40,000 absentees,” Hondorp said. 

On the flip side, the city clerk says the voting precincts are seeing less traffic. So much so that 1st Ward precincts 7 and 11 will be combined to one for the 2020 presidential election, eliminating one poling place. Hondorp believes this could be the trend. 

You can go to Election Central to register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot or drop your absentee ballot off once you’ve voted. You can still go to the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall on Monroe Avenue to complete those tasks. You’re asked to bring your photo ID to make the process easier, though you can register without it.

In addition, the city is holding some public events to encourage people to register to vote. You can attend a voter outreach meeting on:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 18: Noon to 7 p.m. at Baxter Community Center, 935 Baxter St. SE.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19: Noon to 7 p.m. at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, 1204 Grandville Ave. SW.
  • Sunday, March 1: Noon to 5 p.m. at Election Central, 201 Market Ave. SW.
  • Saturday, March 7: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Election Central, 201 Market Ave. SW, and Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave. NW, second floor.

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

Online:

Michigan Voter Information Center

— News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.

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