All state registered voters to be mailed Aug., Nov. absentee ballot applications

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will mail all of Michigan’s 7.7 million voters an absentee voter application for the August and November elections. 

The Detroit Democrat previously said she would focus on “educating” voters on their right to vote absentee for no reason in August and November. But in a Tuesday statement, the secretary of state changed her tune. 

The decision fulfills the “responsibility to provide all voters equal access,” Benson said. 

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote. Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”

It was not immediately clear how much the mailing would cost. 

During the May 5 local elections, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered that every voter be mailed an absentee ballot application to encourage a vote-by-mail system in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The state saw record participation in the 50 elections held that day, with nearly 25% of eligible voters in those areas cast a ballot and 99% of those by mail. 

“The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum want the option to vote by mail,” Benson said. “Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate and secure.”

The question of whether every voter should be mailed an absentee ballot application has been one that largely splits along party lines. 

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox last week said the party did not feel the extra mailings were necessary, even in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We need to follow election law and we believe that if people can go to the grocery store and stand in line then people can stand in line and vote,” Cox said in a Thursday call with press. 

Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes told The Detroit News on Friday that the party “would love a vote by mail election.”

“We were already building toward an aggressive program to get folks to vote by mail,” Barnes said. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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