The staff in the office of the Novi City Clerk has almost 50 years of combined experience in overseeing elections – some small, more recent ones rather large. But never have they had to hold an election amid a worldwide pandemic.
That is what faces them (and the 43,000-plus registered voters in Novi) this year as they adapt to a variety of changes brought on by the coronavirus. First and foremost is the safety of everyone involved in the election process. Unless something changes, all 25 of Novi’s precincts will be open for in person voting for the Aug. 4 and Nov. 3 elections. A variety of safety protocols will be in place to protect both the workers and voters, while ensuring the democratic process goes on without a hitch.
“We will be following all the State and County guidelines, which includes encouraging voters to wear masks,” said City Clerk Cortney Hanson. “While it may look and feel a little different on Election Day, it is our responsibility to provide everyone with a safe place to vote.”
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE POLLS
As it stands right now, all election workers will be equipped with face shields, face masks, disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer. Voting booths will be spaced out and disinfected throughout the day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN HELP:
• Wear a mask. Workers will be wearing them for your safety and you are highly encouraged do the same for them.
• Bring your own black or blue ball point pen. Pens will be available, but this helps with touchpoints.
• Have your ID with you, if you possess one, and make sure you are voting in the right precinct. You can check your precinct online at Michigan.gov/vote.
• Have patience. This is an unprecedented time for all of us and our workers will do their best to ensure you get to vote in a timely manner.
ABSENTEE VOTING IS AN OPTION
As a result of the pandemic, the request for Absentee Ballots has also soared with more than 14,000 requested as of mid-July.
All eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason due to the passage of a statewide ballot proposal in November 2018. In the spring, the Michigan Secretary of State sent Absent Voter Ballot Applications to all registered voters in Michigan, while the Novi City Clerk only sent applications to those who requested to be on the Automatic Application List. Thus, several Novi residents received multiple applications, which caused some confusion for voters. Regardless of the number of applications received, voters will only receive one ballot.
TIPS FOR ABSENTEE VOTING:
• A voter has to complete an application in order to get a ballot. The signature on the application is then reviewed to ensure it is a good likeness to the signature on file before a ballot is sent.
• Contact the City Clerk’s office at 248.347.0456
, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit cityofnovi.org/avapp
to request an application. The Bureau of Elections has also developed an online tool that allows voters to submit their application electronically. Find it at Michigan.gov/vote
under “Apply for An Absent Voter Ballot Online.”
• You do not have to hand your absentee application or ballot to a person. Help us keep our staff members safe by mailing your signed and completed application or ballot back to us, drop it in the grey drop box in the Novi Civic Center parking lot or place it in the blue bin inside the Novi Civic Center. All of these are safe and secure options and the applications or ballots are collected several times throughout the day.
• After receiving your absent voter ballot you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to complete it and return it to the
Clerk’s Office. See options above for returning ballot. The sooner you return it, the easier it is on the staff.
• Track your absentee application and ballot. Visit Michigan.gov/vote
to see if an application has been sent, if it has been received by the Clerk’s Office, if the ballot has been mailed and the date the ballot was returned.
• Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature
on file. You cannot sign an application on behalf of someone else under any circumstance. It is against the law. If there is a concern, a staff member will contact you.
More than 60% of our registered voters were impacted by a precinct change last fall so it is important you verify your polling place in advance.
Registered voters should have already received new voter ID cards with their new polling location, new precinct number or both if they saw a change. You can also find your precinct at Michigan.gov/vote.
Since the fall, two additional changes also had to be made as Walsh College closed and Thornton Creek Elementary School will be under construction for the August election. The voters in precinct 7 at Walsh College will be permanently relocated to the Department of Public Works facility, while the precinct 25 voters at Thornton
Creek will be temporarily moved to the cafeteria at Novi High School for the August election. Precinct 25 voters will return to Thornton Creek for the November election. The affected voters will receive a postcard notifying them of the change prior to August 4.
If you have questions regarding anything election related, please call the City Clerk’s office at 248.347.0456.