City Clerk Janice Winfrey, County Clerk Cathy Garrett Ensures Smooth Voter Process for 2024 Elections

Amber Ogden, Staff Writer contributed to this article.

As the 2024 elections approach, the importance of ensuring a smooth and accessible voting process in Wayne County cannot be overstated. With City Clerk Janice Winfrey and County Clerk Cathy Garrett at the helm, efforts are being intensified to guarantee that every eligible voter in our community has the opportunity to cast their ballot efficiently and confidently. This election cycle holds significant weight, particularly for the Black community, as it presents critical issues and positions that will shape our future. Understanding the intricacies of early voting, embracing new technologies, and following best practices are essential steps toward making our voices heard and driving meaningful change.

County Clerk Cathy Garrett explains that for all 43 municipalities within Wayne County, early voting offers another option for citizens to cast their ballots. “Many people like to put their ballot through a tabulator machine, and early voting gives them more opportunity to do so. Early Voting poll sites are set up like an election day site; one must fill out a voter application, be checked in the poll book, and be provided a ballot. They will take the ballot to a voting booth to fill out and then feed it into a tabulator machine. Our communities must engage in the electoral process to ensure their voices are heard.”

The importance of this election cycle is immense. Every election is critical, but the 2024 cycle presents key issues and positions that directly impact the Black community in Wayne County. According to Cathy Garrett, “Every cycle, every election is crucial. No matter the level of government or the time of year, citizens are asked to select people to represent them. If they choose not to vote, they have diluted their voice in choosing who represents their family, their community, and the best of all levels of government.” The August 6th Primary ballot in Detroit will include races for the U.S. Senate, Representative in Congress, State Representative, County Sheriff, County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, County Prosecutor, and County Commission. Additionally, there is one Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court Non-Incumbent Position, precinct delegates for both parties, and proposals to renew the County Parks millage, County auditor selection amendment, and the City of Detroit Library millage. Garrett emphasizes, “All of these races impact the Black community and beyond. Although voting is our right, we must embrace it and make it our responsibility to vote.”

Photo: County Clerk Cathy Garrett

Advancements in technology are making elections more streamlined. This year in Wayne County, new technologies are being implemented for early and in-person voting. “All changes with voter technologies are highly regulated,” says Garrett. “All changes in voter technology must go through federal and state certification and then be approved by the Secretary of State. For early voting, some communities within Wayne County are utilizing ‘ballot on demand,’ which will print the ballot relevant to the precinct the voter is registered to vote in.”

To ensure that every vote is counted, there are key practices and best things voters should look for when participating in early or in-person voting in Wayne County. Garrett explains, “It is important to remember that for the Primary election, when voting the partisan section of the ballot, voters can only choose candidates of one party; they cannot crossover vote in the primary. If they accidentally crossover vote, the machine will spit the ballot out alerting of a crossover vote. The inspector will explain to the voter they can spoil the ballot and get a new one. If the voter wants the ballot accepted as crossover voting, the entire partisan section will not be counted, and only the nonpartisan section votes will count. Also, under each office title, there is ‘Vote for not more than’ information. Please pay attention to the vote for numbers. If a voter votes for more candidates than the ‘vote for’ designates, the votes for that office will not count, this is called an overvote.”

Reflecting on the broader implications, early and in-person voting in this election cycle can serve as a catalyst for change and progress within the Black community in Wayne County. Garrett asserts, “As previously stated, it provides more opportunity for citizens to exercise their right to vote, to make their voice heard, to ensure they have a government that meets their needs. I hope with the increased options, voter turnout will be increased so we have a more representative government. After all, it is supposed to be ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People!’”

Transitioning seamlessly to the efforts of Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, the upcoming elections are poised for meticulous management. Michigan’s election day is August 6, 2024, with early voting beginning on July 27, 2024. Voters can cast their ballots at one of 14 early vote centers or use one of 35 drop boxes for election-related mail, ensuring convenience and accessibility.

Janice Winfrey, alongside her dedicated team, is committed to executing a flawless election this year. With an unwavering dedication to precision and accuracy, her ultimate goal is to achieve a 100% error-free election process.

“Our last several elections have been 99% error-free, or balanced, is what we call it. But we anticipate a hardy turnout, not so much for the state this August, but certainly for the November presidential general. We expect at least a 50% turnout; that’s been commonplace for the presidential general, and we’re ready and geared up,” Winfrey said.

Photo: City Clerk Janice Winfrey

Winfrey says the upcoming elections will see significant improvements, particularly in using new technology and enhanced reliability. These changes will facilitate quicker and more efficient ballot distribution than previous election processes.

The City Clerk’s Office of Elections has introduced a new permanent absentee voter list system for a smoother future voting process. This system allows individuals to request to be placed on the absentee ballot list, ensuring that they receive their ballots in a timely and consistent manner for all future elections.

“They (Voters) do not have to request the ballot or fill out an application every single time in advance anymore if they’re placed on the permanent absent voter ballot request list,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey has announced that voters can anticipate receiving an Election Connection newsletter in the lead-up to August 6. “Election Connection newsletter, which has a sample ballot in there so they can know who’s on the ballot and can be better prepared to mark their ballot when they go to vote or mail in their absentee ballot,” Winfrey.

It goes without saying that the dedication of City Clerk Janice Winfrey and County Clerk Cathy Garrett in ensuring a smooth voter process for the 2024 elections is a testament to their commitment to our community. They understand that every vote counts and that every voice deserves to be heard. By providing clear information and accessible options, they are empowering the Black community and all of Wayne County to take charge of their future and make informed decisions at the ballot box. Their efforts are not just about managing an election; they are about fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy. The stakes are high, but with the right tools and knowledge, our community can rise to the occasion and make a lasting impact.

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