Voting: Absentee and Accessibility

By Nicholas Goodman, MiCAFE Network Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan

Are you one of 7,503,397 registered voters in Michigan? If you want to verify your voter registration status, go to the Michigan Voter Information Center. There you will find two options to search: by Driver’s License number or your name (and additional details). ­You can then view important information such as the date and type of the next election, your polling location, local clerk, and voting district information.

There are common avenues through which people are registered to vote. The first is when a person makes changes to their Driver’s License at the Secretary of State. Another method is requesting a voter registration form when applying for benefits through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). If you are not someone who registered to vote through the Secretary of State or MDHHS, you can mail in a Voter Registration Application to your local clerk.

If you have completed this first step, congratulations! Now you’re ready to hit the polls. But what if voting in a typical voting booth is not feasible? Thanks to the Promote the Vote Petition (Proposal 3) which passed in the November 2018 General Election, you can obtain an Absentee Ballot for any reason. If you can’t make it to the polls on election day, make the polls come to you!

When you view the Absentee Voter Ballot Application online, the first thing you will see is a checkbox for the next approaching election, which is November 5, 2019. There is also a large print application available. It is important to note question 3b on the application which indicates you want to vote absentee in all future elections. If you do not check this box, you will only be sent an absentee ballot once, for the next approaching election.

If you prefer to vote at your local polling place but need accommodations, assistive technology is available. The Office of Secretary of State states, “To ensure that proper accessibility is maintained, federal and state laws require polling places to remove or make accommodations for any barriers that prevent voters with disabilities from voting.”

In Michigan, there are three companies that provide equipment such as Voter Assist Terminals and tabulators. The three companies are Hart Voting Systems, Dominion Voting Systems, and Election Systems & Software. To determine which company is used in your county, select your county on the list published by the Michigan Secretary of State. Researching the equipment you will find at your polling place can make the experience go more smoothly.

Between absentee voting and technological advances, voting is easier than ever. If you are not a registered voter, I encourage you to submit the form and let your voice be heard in the election on November 5th!

Nicholas Goodman is a Network Specialist for MiCAFE. He has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since October 2013. As a Network Specialist, Nick assists Michigan seniors with benefit applications and serves as an advocate for the health and safety of seniors.