With Election Day approaching, Ypsilanti Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe believes the township is prepared to count the more than 20,000 absentee ballots it expects to receive.
This confidence comes after collecting more ballot scanners, along with the passage of Michigan Senate Bill 757, allowing ballot inspectors to open and verify ballots before Election Day.
Previously, Ypsilanti Township had only five ballot scanners for absentee ballots. Now, with the help of grants and loans from Washtenaw County, Lovejoy Roe has been able to obtain five more scanners. The township now has 10 scanners solely to be used for absentee ballots.
In total, the township has 32 ballot scanners. The 19 other scanners will be present at township precincts, with three backup scanners.
Lovejoy Roe believes that the Township has enough scanners to count all of the absentee ballots it expects to receive, but still wishes that the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees had voted to acquire a high speed scanner in August. The scanner would have lessened the workload of ballot inspectors, as it is capable of counting 10,000 ballots in one hour. This can be compared to regular scanners that can only count 250 ballots in an hour.
So far, the Ypsilanti Township Clerk’s office has received roughly 18,000 absentee ballots. That is about 89% of the approximate 22,000 absentee ballots that were sent to Ypsilanti Township residents.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed in to law Senate Bill 757 on Oct. 6, allowing city and township clerks to begin processing absentee ballots the day prior to election day. This is only allowed if the city or township has a population over 25,000. Ballot counting can only be conducted between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The new law means that on Monday, Nov. 2, inspectors will be checking to see if each absentee ballot has a signature and date, ensuring that ballots are valid before opening them and inserting them into an absentee ballot secrecy envelope container. Ballots will be kept private, ready to be counted the following day.
With the help of Senate Bill 757, Lovejoy Roe believes that if her inspectors will be able to open all of the 20,000 or more absentee ballots on Monday, then on Tuesday her team will hopefully be done counting absentee ballots between midnight or 2 a.m on Wednesday.
If this law had not passed, Lovejoy Roe stated that it would be more likely that they would not finish counting the absentee ballots until midday Wednesday.
Lovejoy Roe predicts that the precincts will attract over 1,000 voters, with lines from morning until night. As a result, she encourages voters to vote absentee. Voters may have to wait an hour in line at a precinct, rather than 15 to 30 minutes at the Ypsilanti Township Clerk’s Office.
“We’ve always had a large percentage [of voters]. Probably 20 or 30% of people have always voted absentee in Ypsilanti Township,” Lovejoy Roe said. “Their votes have always counted, nothing’s changed, they’re going to be voted and counted the same way on Election Day with the same kind of machine just like you would have if you went to the polling place.”
“I had a great time keeping track of my ballot through the Michigan Voter Information Center,” Areena Basmadjian, a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University student, said. Basmadjian is a first time absentee voter.
“Knowing that it’s been received and seeing the process every step of the way gives me confidence that I can trust my local clerk to count my vote on Election Day,” Basmadjian said.
Voters must turn in their absentee ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Two dropboxes are located in Ypsilanti Township. One at the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department, 222 S. Ford Blvd. The other is located at the Township Civic Center, 7200 S. Huron River Dr.
The Ypsilanti Township Clerk’s Office is located at 7200 S. Huron River Dr. Questions can be directed to the township Clerk’s office at (734) 484-4700.