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Absentee voting expected to remain popular during February presidential primary

An envelope that says "official absentee ballot."
Karel Vega

As Mid-Michigan gears up for the presidential primary election next month, more voters are signing up to automatically receive absentee ballots.

In 2022, Michigan voters approved a proposal allowing them to join a permanent absentee voting list. Those who sign up will be mailed a ballot for every subsequent election without having to fill out additional applications.

Delta Township Clerk Mary Clark said the township has nearly 30,000 registered voters, with more than 25% signed up to join the list.

"A lot of people say, 'I like voting from my kitchen table. I don't want to go out and do anything. If I did, I’d just go Election Day,'" Clark said.

According to local election offices, around 20% of voters in Ingham County and 14% of voters in Clinton County have signed up for the permanent mail ballot list as of Tuesday.

February’s primary is also the first election in the state where communities are required to offer nine days of early voting. The early voting is one part of a proposal Michigan voters approved in 2022 that also allows them to join a permanent absentee voting list.

Some municipalities like Delta Township offered a test-run of early voting during last year’s local elections. In Lansing and East Lansing, early votes made up less than a percent of the total vote tally.

“Early voting may get a slow start in Michigan," Clark added. "Michigan voters already had options. We just have more options now.

Michigan’s presidential primary is on Feb. 27. Residents can vote absentee by joining the automatic mail ballot list or by requesting a ballot for a particular election. They can also vote early in-person, or at their precinct on Election Day.

Absentee voters need to fill out a form to state whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot during the presidential primary. They can also sign up for the permanent mailing list to automatically receive absentee ballots for every election going forward.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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