Washtenaw County officials are “prepared for Election Day”

WASHTENAW COUNTY – Washtenaw County election administrators, poll workers, and public safety officials are prepared for Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Polling locations will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Washtenaw County Administrator Gregory Dill states, “I am confident the appropriate resources have been dedicated to this very important election. Our county and local clerks have been preparing for over a year; and despite being faced with such challenges as a global pandemic, they have collectively developed a process that will ensure safe polling locations that comply with public health standards through social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, and PPE. Moreover, in anticipation of unprecedented absentee voter turnout, our County Clerk assisted with the allocation of additional equipment at Absent Voter Count Boards, which will help to efficiently process absentee ballots.”

County, City and Township Officials partner to ensure election preparedness, including:

Voter and Poll Worker Health

Every polling location in Washtenaw County will have personal protective equipment on-hand for use by poll workers and voters, including disposable masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, gloves, and disinfectant spray/wipes. All active emergency public health orders will be followed.

Washtenaw County has provided ‘sneeze-guard’ barriers for every voting precinct and has trained Poll Workers to follow a thorough sanitization protocol that includes disinfecting surfaces after every voter and encouraging social distancing.

Current emergency public health orders require poll workers to wear a face-covering. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear a face-covering and will be offered a disposable mask if they are in need.

Public Safety on Election Day

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office will increase the number of deputies assigned to election detail on November 3 and will readily respond to calls from polling locations, if necessary.

Deputies are trained to identify activity that violates laws prohibiting voter intimidation.

The Sheriff’s office coordinates with the Michigan State Police and city, township, and university law enforcement agencies to prepare for Election Day.

Voters are encouraged to report intimidation, harassment, or coercion to a poll worker or contact the nonpartisan election protection hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE.

The Sheriff’s Office and the local Police Services agencies serving Washtenaw County have collaborated with the County Clerk in the development of strategies and operational protocols focused on supporting election integrity and polling location safety.

Poll Worker Recruitment & Training 

More than 1,500 Poll Workers will serve at polling locations and Absent Voter Count Boards across Washtenaw County on November 3.

Poll workers have received detailed training from the County Clerk’s office and/or their City or Township Clerk. They are prepared to:

  • Properly open and close their polling location
  • Issue ballots and process voters
  • Keep careful records of the list of voters and account for every ballot issued
  • Follow emergency public health orders and sanitization protocol
  • Know what types of photo identification are acceptable and to provide an affidavit to voters that do not possess valid photo ID
  • Direct voters to their City or Township Clerk’s office if they have not yet registered to vote
  • Count every valid vote

Poll workers are instructed how to identify acceptable poll watcher, challenger, and campaigning activity – and to act if they observe activity that violates the law, including escalating concerns to senior election administrators and law enforcement if necessary.

Washtenaw County Clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum states, “Washtenaw County residents have answered the call to serve as poll workers. More than 1,200 individuals have expressed their interest in serving as a poll worker through the county’s recruitment tool. Hundreds more have signed up through the Michigan Secretary of State’s Democracy MVP Program and have contacted City and Township Clerk’s offices directly. Poll workers play a critical role in administering this election and I am grateful for their commitment to serving their community.”

Expanded City/Township Clerk Hours for Voting Prior to Election Day

Every City and Township Clerk’s office in Michigan will be open for at least 8 hours this weekend to receive in-person requests to register to vote and for voters who want to vote early by casting an Absent Voter Ballot.

Voters must visit the Clerk’s office in the city or township they live in and can find more information at Michigan.gov/Vote.

Absentee Voting 

To date 158,787 voters in Washtenaw County have been issued an Absent Voter Ballot for the November 3, 2020 General Election. 124,730 have already returned their ballot.

A recently enacted law allows Clerks in larger communities to pre-process (but not tabulate) Absent Voter Ballots on the day prior to Election Day, to help them efficiently process the increased volume of Absent Voter Ballots issued this election.

In addition, communities large and small have acquired additional voting equipment and bolstered the number of poll workers hired to process the volume of absentees expected.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections and Washtenaw County have made grant funds available to cities and townships in Washtenaw County to assist their purchase of additional equipment.

Absent Voter Ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on Election Day to be counted. Voters who have received an Absent Voter Ballot are encouraged to vote and return it to their City or Township Clerk as soon as possible by delivering the ballot to an approved Absent Voter Ballot Dropbox location.

It’s important that ballots are returned to the proper location. Voters can find their ballot delivery locations at Michigan.gov/Vote.

While Absent Voter Ballots can also be returned by mail to the address printed on the return envelope, voters are encouraged to deliver their ballot in-person to ensure it is received by 8:00 pm on Election Day.

Election Night Results Reporting

Unofficial election results reported by the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office after the polls close at 8:00 pm on November 3, 2020 will include results from in-person voting precincts as well as the results of Absent Voter Ballots received by the close of the polls. Results from Absent Voter Ballots submitted by 8:00 pm on Election Day will be reported as soon and as often as they are received until counting is complete.

Washtenaw County election results can be viewed at Washtenaw.org/Elections.

Washtenaw County Director of Elections Ed Golembiewski states, “Washtenaw County Clerk, Information Technology, Facilities, and Communications staff regularly meet to make and review comprehensive election preparedness and business continuity plans so that election results can be reported efficiently after the polls close. City and Township Clerks are in regular communication with the County Clerk’s office to prepare for Election Day and are engaged in preparedness planning of their own.” 

Election Security

Michigan voters are provided with a paper ballot which can easily be recounted or auditing after the election. Paper ballots afford a secure method of voting.

City and Township Election Commissions conduct through logic and accuracy testing of every ballot tabulator to ensure that they will accurately count paper ballots on Election Day. This testing is open to the public to observe.

Bi-partisan boards of poll workers are appointed to process voters and count ballots, both in-person and in Absent Voter Count Boards. Poll workers are community residents who are trained to follow election law and procedure.

After the polls close, poll workers certify returns to the City, Township and County Clerk as well as the bi-partisan Board of County Canvassers. The Board of County Canvassers conduct a thorough review of election returns from every voting precinct to ensure that that the list of voters accurately corresponds to the number of ballots cast. After, the County Board of Canvassers delivers returns to the bi-partisan State Board of Canvassers who provides a final review and certifies state and federal races.

For more information visit Washtenaw.org/ElectionsMichigan.gov/Vote, or call the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office Elections Division at 734-222-6730.

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