Ottawa Voters to receive absentee ballot applications from County next week

Bookmark and Share

Elections Press Release Header

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   Facebook @OCClerkRegister

June 10, 2020                                                                                         Twitter @OttawaElections

Ottawa Voters to receive absentee ballot applications from County next week

GRAND HAVEN – Although residents in hundreds of communities throughout Michigan are receiving applications to vote from the Michigan Secretary of State, registered voters in Ottawa County can expect to receive a mailing from the County instead. This postcard mailing, set to arrive in mailboxes in the next week, informs voters of their right to participate in the elections process by absentee ballot, and includes an application for their ballot that can be mailed back to their local jurisdiction clerk.  Also included is a link to Ottawa County’s new Elections Security webpage ( that highlights a number of common questions and concerns from voters. 

Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg cited concern for access to a fundamental right and the health of the community as driving factors in the decision to conduct a countywide mailing. “We need to ensure we are taking care of all members of our community, including the vulnerable and those who may not feel comfortable attending the polls as we look toward the major elections coming up this year,” said Vanderberg. 

Another consideration involved challenges with the state’s mailing of absentee voter applications prior to the May 5 Election. For that election, Executive Order 2020-27 required that applications to vote by absentee ballot be mailed by the State of Michigan to every registered voter. “We had a great election overall,” said Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck. “But there were some significant challenges to overcome with the timing and accuracy of the State’s mailing of our voters.”  Several thousand voters without an election were mailed absentee ballot applications, causing confusion for many and additional hours spent by local clerks helping navigate the questions. “Elections are best handled at the local level, and I’m thankful that each of our 23 local jurisdiction clerks had input on this mailing to our voters,” said Roebuck.

“Over the past several weeks, Justin and his team have communicated with local clerks and sought our input while creating a mailing to Ottawa County voters that is sensitive to their needs, ensures accuracy and coordinates efforts to effectively get the job done in these unusual circumstances,” said Daniele Dykens, Deputy Clerk in Park Township, and President of the Ottawa County Clerks Association.

Local Clerks in Ottawa County are also using this mailing as an opportunity to clean up the voter list in each community. The County verified the records of its 208,000 registered voters against the U.S. Postal Service’s “National Change of Address” listing prior to sending the mailing. That process identified any person on the voter rolls who had moved or changed their address according to Post Office records.  “The end result is thousands of mail pieces that will not go to individuals who have moved, and a more accurate voter list overall”, said Roebuck. Once information is received that a voter may no longer reside at the address listed on their voter record, federal law, under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), requires election officials to follow a multi-step voter notification process before the voter registration can be cancelled.  

Roebuck said that any resident who does receive an application mailing at their address for a voter who no longer resides in the household can help local election officials by marking the envelope as “not at this address” or “return to sender” and placing it back in the mail. 

In addition to the Ottawa County mailing, voters may receive applications to vote absentee from various third parties throughout the election cycle as well.  Political parties, candidates and other interest groups frequently mass mail applications to vote during major election cycles.  However, Roebuck indicated that once a voter has filled out and returned one ballot application to their local jurisdiction clerk, they do not need to complete any further applications. 

A copy of the Ottawa County Absentee Voter Ballot Application and Informational mailing can be found here.