Day before election, GR voters line up for absentee ballots

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With Monday the last day to apply for an absentee ballot in Michigan, people lined up at their local clerk’s offices across West Michigan.

Some offices reported a wait time of more than two hours.

“I almost turned around, but I said, ‘Nope, this is worth it,’” said one man who went to Grand Rapids City Hall to get his ballot.

Coronavirus mitigation protocols meant large crowds lined up in the parking garage so they could be properly socially distanced. The line was four rows deep and people started arriving at 8 a.m.

The pandemic has moved some schools online, forcing some parents to bring the kids along.

“We didn’t have a babysitter, so we had to bring them with us,” one couple said.

Many voters cited the coronavirus as a motivator in this election, including one who said his daughter was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Curt O’Brian said. “I’m not particularly pleased with how our county has handled it so far. And I think the outcome of this election could be crucially important to the country as a whole.”

The clerk’s office said the crowds were a first because this was the first presidential election that no-reason absentee voting was in place in Michigan.

“I think a lot of people realize what’s at stake. We’ve never seen an election that’s been so pushed to the extremes,” said Gabi Salazar, who is voting in her first presidential election.

Voters said it took about an hour and a half from start to finish to vote.

“I think everyone is hoping for a brighter future,” O’Brian said.

By the end of the day, about 960 people had voted absentee at Grand Rapids clerk sites at City Hall and Election Central on Market Street SW.