November 3 is Election Day. Citizens across the state and the nation are paying close attention to this year’s unprecedented election. Up for grabs is the position of president as well as many other national, state and local positions. However, due to the coronavirus, many voters are questioning their safety at the polls and casting their votes early. The city of Detroit is introducing new ways to vote all while keeping its citizens safe.
Through the use of various platforms, voters in Detroit are finding it easier to submit their ballots for the General Election. While some are waiting until November 3 to cast their vote, others are choosing one of other ways to vote early.
“I think it’s extremely important to vote early. We’re expecting a large turnout. In this age of COVID, a lot of people will be voting via absentee,” Rhonda Craig, President of the League of Women Voters of Detroit says.
With the influx of absentee ballots, voters are being encouraged to submit their votes using the drop box systems around the city. Although some voters are concerned about the security of their ballots, the Department of Elections has taken measures to safeguard each vote and to be sure that all votes are counted properly and submitted securely.
“We are suggesting everyone use the drop boxes in and around the city,” Craig says. “The drop boxes are secured and there are cameras outside the drop boxes. There’re other measures the Department of Elections has taken to ensure a fair, impartial, safe and secure election.”
Among places where drop boxes can be found is the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in the City Clerk’s office. Along with the City Clerk’s office, local churches such as Greater Grace Temple and Greater Christ Baptist Church are also participating with the drop box program.
In addition to the drop box system, voters are also being encouraged to utilize the city’s Satellite Centers to submit their ballots for the presidential election. Detroit has added 23 Satellite Vote Centers across the city where people can register to vote, complete their absentee ballots and turn them in all at once.
“You can register at one of the satellite sites and request an absentee ballot and submit your ballot at the same time. It’s a one-stop shop,” Craig explains. “Also, you can register online.”
If people prefer to mail in their absentee ballots, plan on mailing them early. Due to the pandemic, the United States Postal Service is experiencing delays in the mail system. With the mail-in deadline quickly approaching, voters are being encouraged to place their ballots in the mail sooner rather than later.
“If you must mail it in, mail it early. We’re looking at October 20 being the deadline for mail-in ballots. If you must mail them, please, please put them in the mail early,” Craig urges.
With the option to submit early, the issue of ballot tampering has been on the minds of voters this election season. Voters are now able to track their ballots in real time. Using a system called BallotTrax, residents are able to follow their ballots from printing until they are processed.
“We have a lot of safeguards in place [from] the Secretary of State and the Department of Elections,” Craig shares.
As some plan to vote ahead of time, a number of voters are choosing to wait until the General Election to vote in person. With concerns of the pandemic and social distancing, safety measures are being put into place to provide each voter a sense of security while at the polls.
“They’re given gloves and masks and face shields. The poll workers are required to wear them, and there will be sanitizer and masks provided for voters to wear. Materials will be cleaned and sanitized after each use,” Craig explains.
As the countdown to Election Day continues, organizations are continuing to spread the word about registration and proper ballot submission. With a number of residents still not registered, and the clock winding down, voters are being urged to help spread the word about the importance of voting in this year’s election.
“We want everybody to vote. We’ve been going out having registration drives and a lot of Zoom conferences. Please, please vote early, as soon as you can,” Craig says. “The League of Women Voters of Detroit sponsors a website where you can get a lot of information. It’s just an invaluable tool. It also has mileages and proposals if they’re on the ballot in your county.”
For more information on finding a polling location, drop box or satellite center, voters are urged to visit the city’s website at detroitmi.gov or the League of Women Voters of Detroit’s sponsored site at vote411.org.