By Tom Travis
Absentee ballots will begin to be mailed out Tuesday, July 7, Flint City Clerk Inez Brown said in a phone interview Monday.
In the face of an inquiry by the Greater Flint ACLU, questioning the City Clerks’ procedures, Brown said she could not confirm the number of applications for mail-in ballots received so far nor the number of ballots that will be mailed out tomorrow, July 7.
About 70,000 registered Flint voters were sent an application for a mail-in ballot in May. In addition, Brown said, there are 5,000 registered Flint voters already on a permanent absentee ballot list, bringing the total to more than 75,000 registered voters in the city.
Michigan law states that the ballots must be sent out no later than 40 days before the election. That deadline was June 25, 2020.
In a press conference on March 10, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said that mail-in ballot applications would be sent to Michigan’s 7.7 million registered voters. For the first time in history Michigan residents were given the option to mail in their ballots for the Aug. 4 primary election and the Nov. 3 general election which includes the U.S. presidential election.
County Clerk’s office prints the ballots, City Clerk’s office distributes the ballots
The County Clerk’s office prints the ballots and then gives the ballots to the City Clerk’s office. Brown added there is “a lot of work” in the process of getting the ballots ready to mail out to Flint residents: verify signatures, addresses, proof read the ballots and prepare them for mailing.
Brown pointed out that Flint is one of only two cities in Michigan that pay for the return postage of ballots mailed to residents. Brown said, “when Flint residents get their ballots they simply have to complete the ballot and put it back in the postage paid envelope and mail it back.”
Asked how many mail-in ballot applications have been received, Brown stated, “They are in process. We are processing all mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballots and we recognize that time is of the essence.” Brown said, “(The ballots) are going out.”
Brown expressed frustration towards some in the community who are raising questions and “trying to frighten people” about the process. She explained that part of the delay has been due to Chris Christenson, a local attorney who was running for judge and had listed his work address instead of his home address on his petition to run for office.
A June 11 Mlive article stated that the Secretary of State had previously disqualified Christenson from the ballot because he used the incorrect address. Christenson appealed the decision and that legal process delayed the printing of the ballots. Ultimately Christenson was allowed on the ballot as decided June 10 by State Court of Claims Judge Michael Kelly.
Inez Brown a long time advocate and activist for Civil Rights
Brown was emphatic in stating that her desire and passion was for civil rights and constitutionality to be upheld in her work and for all citizens in Flint. Brown recalled her life of involvement in civil rights including being involved in marches for a fair process for all.
Brown stated to assure the community, “We’re not drastically behind. We’re trying to work with ACLU in this matter.”
EVM assistant editor and Democracy Beat reporter Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.