GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids voters who have applied for an absentee ballot can expect to receive one by mail at the end of September. Voters who have not applied for an absentee ballot can request one until the day before the election.
City Clerk Joel Hondorp said this is the first year that all voters can apply for an absentee ballot due to the passing of Proposal 3 in 2018. The city received 16,000 absentee ballots in 2016. This year, the city expects roughly 50,000. To make the process of returning these ballots easier for voters, 300 absentee ballot boxes have been constructed and set up near city clerk offices across the state.
The Grand Rapids city clerk’s office is on the second floor of City Hall, located on 300 Monroe Ave. NW. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 3.
Even though the process of an absentee ballot may be easier for the voter, Hondorp explained why it’s more expensive and a lot of work for the clerk’s office.
“When people go to the precincts, we pay for the ballot and the equipment, and people put their own ballot in the tabulator,” Hondorp said. “However, when we do absentee ballots, we have to pay for the ballots, we pay for postage both going out and coming back. We mail the application, we record the application, we stuff a ballot and label it, re-envelope it. We mail that envelope out, we have to process that received envelope. We open that envelope, tabulate that ballot. So there's a lot more touches that have to be done."
Residents 18 or older are automatically registered to vote when they make a transaction with the Secretary of State. They may register to vote by mail up to 15 days before an election or in person at the city clerk’s office within 14 days of the election up to Election Day. Proof of residency is required.
Voters who have not applied for an absentee ballot can request one until the day before the election.