Grand Rapids resident Karen Dunnam explains her experience with absentee voting.
Grand Rapids resident Karen Dunnam explains her experience with absentee voting.

“I had no qualms voting by mail,” said one Michigan voter.

MICHIGAN — This year’s election has been faced with more than its fair share of challenges, the least of which is the coronavirus pandemic.

Grand Rapids resident Karen Dunnam rode her bike to her local clerk’s office like she normally does, but she did not cast her vote inside this year.

“I’ve always gone to my precinct, stood in line, filled out the forms, and collect my sticker,” said Dunnman, 63, who remembers casting her first ballot for Jimmy Carter.

“I had no qualms voting by mail or by absentee ballot,” Dunnam told The ‘Gander.

Two hours east of Grand Rapids, Genesee County saw its highest absentee turnout, with 60% of voters returning ballots before the polls opened Tuesday. In previous elections, that’s usually been just 15% of voters.

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When it became clear that large crowds could no longer gather safely, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson made the controversial decision to spend over $4.5 million in federal aid to mail every voter an absentee ballot application.

Dunnman even created a YouTube video to show fellow Michigan voters how easy the absentee voting process was for her.

Voters like the Grand Rapids resident took advantage of opportunities to vote without the large crowds.

“I usually vote in person but I decided this year to send in my absentee ballot because it (the absentee ballot application) was already sent out to us,” said Marwa Ayache, a 22-year-old Dearborn Heights resident.

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“I ended up getting the day off work so it ended up working out well that I voted absentee,” said the high school teacher.

Dunnman and Ayache joined the largest number of Michigan voters to cast absentee ballots in the state’s history. Ballot counts could extend well into Wednesday as city and county clerks work to get through all of the ballots.

“I wanted it to count,” Ayache said.

Paving the Way for November

The ease and safety of absentee voting could allow for an even larger voter turnout for November’s general election. 

The ‘Gander previously reported that key races throughout the state could greatly affect Michigan power dynamics. The 4th district of the Michigan House is up for grabs along with six other Congressional districts.

The political battle between Vice President and presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump could be decided by the largest electorate in modern history.

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