Absentee ballots go out today for the May 7 election for Lansing Charter Revision Commission

Voters need to decide nine members from a whopping 36 candidates


THURSDAY, March 28 — Absentee ballots for Lansing’s May 7 special election will be mailed out today to select nine of the 36 candidates to serve on the city’s Charter Revision Commission.

The charter revision process was established on Nov. 7, when 51.61% of voters approved it. The revision question has been on the Lansing ballot every 12 years since the original charter was enacted in 1978 but had never passed until last year.

Once elected, the nine commission members will have three years, or up to 90 meetings, to discuss potential changes to Lansing’s charter. If most of them agree on a specific set of changes, they’ll send a draft to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for approval. If it gets the green light, Lansing voters will have the final say.

First, though, voters will have to narrow the field of 36 down by 75%.

There are five ways to submit for those who wish to do so via an absentee ballot.

Ballots can be sent in by mail, but they must be received by when the polls close at 8 p.m. May 7. They can also be dropped off at the city’s new Reo Elections Office, 1221 Reo Road, and at City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave., during regular business hours.

On election day, voters can also return their ballot at their precinct location, just as they would if they were voting in person. They can also bring them into the lone early voting site for this election, the Reo Elections Office, while early voting is open on the weekend of May 4 and May 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 Finally, voters can use one of 14 dropboxes throughout the city until 8 p.m. May 7. While Michigan state law requires one dropbox per 15,000 voters, Swope said he decided to establish more than double the amount required in Lansing.

 “We have fewer than 90,000 registered voters, so that’s six for Lansing. But I think they’re very important, so we’ll have those 14,” Swope said.

 In addition to the Reo Election Office and City Hall, dropboxes are at CATA headquarters, 4615 Tranter St.; the Mt. Hope Cemetery Office, 1709 E. Mt Hope Ave.; Foster Community Center, 200 N. Foster Ave.; Gier Community Center, 2400 Hall St.; Letts Community Center, 1220 W. Kalamazoo St.; Southside Community Center, 5825 Wise Road; Fire Station 1, 120 E. Shiawassee St.; Fire Station 2, 2114 N. Grand River Ave.; Fire Station 4, 1435 E. Miller Road; Fire Station 6, 5135 Pleasant Grove Road; Fire Station 8, 815 Marshall St.; and Fire Station 9, 520 Glendale Ave.

 Swope added that his office has implemented several security measures to ensure that the activity at each of those dropboxes is recorded and documented.

 “Every dropbox has a camera on it that’s operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, if anything were to happen to a dropbox, or if we had someone questioning something, we would be able to go back and review that footage and see what happened,” Swope said.

 Additionally, he’ll have a staff member stationed at each of them just before the polls close to collect the final batches of ballots.

 In a related change, Swope has reduced the number of precincts for this election from 32 in the presidential primary to 22 for May 7.

 “Because the school district has school in session, 26,000 voters will have to go to a one-time location in May,” Swope said.

 As a result of these changes, Precincts 2 and 8 will vote at the Don Johnson Fieldhouse, 400 N. Pennsylvania Ave.; Precincts 3 and 4 at Grand River Head Start, 1107 E. Grand River Ave.; Precincts 10 and 14 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 549 E. Mt Hope Ave.; Precincts 23 and 24 at the Dr. Eva Evans Welcome Center, 2400 Pattengill Ave.; Precincts 25 and 26 at Tabernacle of David Church, 2645 W. Holmes Road, Precincts 35 and 38 at the Letts Community Center, 1220 W. Kalamazoo St.; and Precincts 39 and 40 at Hope Ministries Church, 3827 Delta River Drive.

 Residents who aren’t registered to vote can do so at the Reo Elections Office or City Hall through election day. They can also register by mail or online until 15 days before the election, by April 23.

 Swope said over 17,000 voters are already on the permanent ballot list, meaning they will receive their absentee ballots in the mail in the next few days. For anyone else who may want to try that method, Swope said they can come into City Hall or the Reo Elections Office to pick up an absentee ballot until 4 p.m. May 6.

 “For most voters, we have to have their ballot by 8 p.m. election day. The exception is voters who are active military or living overseas. They’ll have until the Monday after the election, if it is postmarked by election day,” Swope said.

 Swope’s office maintains an election website that outlines much of the process in greater detail, complete with a frequently asked questions page for voters. To find out more, visit https://lansingvotes.gov/.


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