Don't wait, Michigan. Vote today.

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SELFIE
  • Selfie

There's a big election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, but as we've said before, it's really already begun. Think of it this way: Tuesday, Nov. 3 is your last chance to vote.

Due to a whole messy slew of factors — including the coronavirus pandemic and threats of chaos on Election Day — millions of Michiganders have requested absentee ballots. In fact, according to the Secretary of State, nearly 1 million ballots have already been turned in, dwarfing the 248,000 cast in 2016.



In 2018, Michiganders approved a ballot measure that allows for no-excuse absentee voting, meaning anyone can apply for an absentee ballot for any reason. (Before, you had to say that you didn't plan on being able to make it to the polls on Election Day.) The Secretary of State already mailed absentee voter applications to every registered voter, but if you didn't get one — as was the case with me — you can request one at michigan.gov/vote. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 30.

Voting absentee is my favorite. You can really sit down and take your time with it, brushing up on the candidates and proposals without feeling rushed. (The fact that Election Day is not a federal holiday is, in my view, one of the many forms of voter suppression that the status quo has long counted on.) Plus, you don't have to worry about the coronavirus, or waiting in a long line.



Given the reported slowdowns with mail delivery resulting from President Donald Trump's suspiciously timed cuts to the U.S. Postal Service, you'll want to request that ballot and mail it back sooner rather than later. In fact, election officials recommend you send your ballot by Monday, Oct. 19. That's tomorrow.

Adding even more pressure, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently struck down a 14-day extension that would have given officials an extra two weeks after Election Day to count any ballots that arrived late. So Tuesday, Nov. 3 really is the hard deadline for it to be received.

So if you haven't yet mailed your absentee voter ballot yet, you'll want to drop it off in-person, either at your local clerk's office or at a designated drop-box. You can find the locations of both at michigan.gov/vote. You have up until 8 p.m. on Election Day to drop it off. For even more peace of mind, you can check to make sure your ballot was received and counted by going to michigan.gov/vote and clicking on "Did my ballot arrive?"  You can also register to vote and vote early in-person at your local clerk's office every day up until Nov. 3 during normal office hours.

If you really want the peace of mind — and personal satisfaction — of placing your ballot in the counting machine yourself, you can vote in-person on Election Day. However, aside from the threats of the coronavirus, there are already concerns about possible violent clashes at the polls. President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., has called for an "Army for Trump" to watch the polls, alleging widespread voter fraud. In a year where political tensions have already turned to violence, officials are worried about calls for an "Army" to mobilize, and last week, Michigan took the step of banning the open carry of firearms at polling places to prevent voter intimidation.

If you need any more motivation to cast your vote, consider the tragic story of James Wendell Williams, a terminally ill man from Birmingham who made it his dying wish to vote Trump out. Knowing that he likely wouldn't survive until Election Day, Williams's family helped him to his local clerk's office to drop off his ballot on Sept. 24, the first day of early voting. He died eight days later.

Since he died before the election, Williams's family later learned that his vote was invalidated — in Michigan, votes are counted on Election Day, not as they come in.

Still, they don't believe his dying efforts were in vain.

"It's not that he thought his vote was going to change the election. He believed it was important as an example to his children and grandchildren," his son, David, told the Washington Post. "The way you use your energy, particularly when you don't have much left, that is a very true reflection of what you really care about."

Use your energy. Vote.

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