Former military serviceman David Barnosky has a long history of voting by mail. Now he’s helping make sure every Michigander can use that right.
MICHIGAN — As the August statewide primary approaches and Michigan prepares for a presidential election in November, most Michiganders intend on voting by mail.
This information came from a Progress Michigan and Public Policy Polling survey published in Lake Effect. More than half of Michiganders intend to vote by mail in August and November in the likely event that the novel coronavirus pandemic remains a problem. Michiganders are also almost evenly split on if voting in person is safe — one third believe it to be absolutely safe, one third believe it to be somewhat safe, and one third believe it to be absolutely unsafe.
“If COVID-19 is still a problem come election time in August and November, 56% of people say that they will be voting by mail using an absentee ballot,” said Progress Michigan spokesperson Sam Inglot. “People are definitely concerned by COVID-19 still. From masks to how they vote, we’re seeing that people want to stay safe.”
Absentee ballots have been used without incident by many Michiganders for a long time, but two things changed in 2020. First, voter access reforms passed by ballot initiative in 2018 allow Michiganders to vote absentee without giving a reason for the first time. Second, the pandemic has prompted the state to mail absentee ballot applications to voters to encourage the safer practice of voting by mail.
“I am asking people to vote absentee because they can under the new law and so that any late deciders can make a last minute choice and not have to wait in line,” said West Olive resident David Barnosky. “America is built on principles, but those principles are maintained by those who show up. They are defended by people who stand up to those who would tear those principles down.”
Bamosky has a history of voting by mail himself, as a former member of the armed forces. He understands the process and looks forward to being a part of it again.
“I will be working as a poll challenger on Election Day where I hope to be assigned to an absentee counting board,” he told The ’Gander. “I’m going to know the rules and I’m going to make sure everything is done as fairly as humanly possible because I believe in ‘one man, one vote’ and that cheaters should not win.”
So far in 2020, voting by mail has been a runaway success in Michigan. In May, local elections shattered turnout records largely through mail-in voting. And already there are signs August’s primary will follow suit, with Kalamazoo reporting record rates of mailed ballots.
“Because we have no-reason absentee for the first time now in some larger elections like the ones we have this year, and then we have the pandemic, it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s driving the higher absentee,” Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling told WWMT.
While Borling is preparing for normal in-person turnout in August, he doubts in-person voting will be that popular. But he’s using this August primary to help prepare for the November election.
“Because more people are voting absentee, that means those are people who aren’t going to the polls now or is there more interest in this election and so turnout is higher, we’re not totally sure,” he said. “My gut feeling is we will see lower in-person voting.”
Michigan has also recently introduced the ability to request an absentee ballot online.
President Donald Trump has threatened Michigan’s federal funding over the state’s press for voting by mail, and he has repeated thoroughly debunked claims that the absentee voter system is rife with fraud.