All 38,000-plus registered voters in the City of Battle Creek will receive absentee ballot applications by mail, so they can easily take part in the Aug. 4 primary election and Nov. 3 general election.  Applications were mailed last week and are already arriving in voter mailboxes.

In a release on Friday, the City of Battle Creek said "Absentee voting, or voting by mail, is easy, convenient, safe, and secure. Every voter in Michigan has the right to vote by absentee ballot."

Battle Creek City Clerk Victoria Houser said they have a current list of about 4,000 voters who are already on the list of voters who have requested an automatic mailing of an absentee ballot application form.   She says voters also can complete a form to be placed on the permanent absentee voter list. Once you are on this list, you automatically will receive an absentee ballot application by mail before every election. There is no commitment once you do this.  The city clerk's office says that even if you apply to vote by mail, you can change your mind and vote in person on Election Day.

Houser says the mailing to all registered city voters was mandated by the state of Michigan.  She says the state offered to the mailing, or have the city handle it and be reimbursed.   Houser says the city chose to handle it but also has hired a vendor to do the mailing at a saving.    The cost of each application is about 30 cents with an additional 49 cents postage. Houser says it would cost even more, as staff would have to spend a lot of time folding, etc.   But the vendor is doing the whole thing for 52 cents.  Still, that's a cost of nearly $20,000.   Houser says this mailing to all 38,000 registered voters is only being done now due to COVID-19 concerns.   She says there's a box that voters may check to receive absentee ballots for both the August primary and November general elections.   Voters will still be responsible to send in the application form.

The clerk's office reminds voters that sending ballot applications does not automatically guarantee you a ballot.  You must complete the application, sign it, and mail it back to the City Clerk’s Office, drop it in the new dropbox outside the entrance to City Hall (coming soon), or scan/photograph the application and email it to the Clerk’s Office at cityclerk@battlecreekmi.gov. Staff will verify your signature against the voter registration record before sending a ballot.

If you receive an application for a person who no longer lives at your address, please write “return to sender – no longer lives at this address” on the envelope and place it back in the mail. This helps local clerks update the address and status of all registered voters.

Not sure of your voter registration status? Use the Michigan Voter Information Center to verify your voter registration and track your absentee ballot.

For more information, contact the City Clerk’s Office at 269-966-3348.