FLINT TWP. — Like many local clerks, Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk has become accustomed to seeing moderate to low voter participation for special elections held in May.
But this year, Funk is expecting a larger than usual voter turnout for the May 4 election— mostly because of the issues that will be on the ballot and an increase in absentee voters.
On May 4, voters will be faced with two important countywide proposals, including a Community Mental Health Millage supported by Genesee Health System and a surcharge renewal for the Genesee County 911 Central Dispatch.
Funk said that the countywide ballot issues themselves could draw more voters to the polls in Flint Township, particularly the mental health millage.
“I think voters realize how crucial mental health is right now due to the pandemic,” she said. “While the 911 surcharge is important, renewals historically pass easily in Genesee County, leaving the mental health ballot proposal the one to watch.”
Over the past year, Funk said that the township’s permanent absentee voter list has also risen dramatically from approximately 4,000 voters to almost 10,000. As of April 19, the township had issued 3,992 absentee ballots and had already received 2,345 back.
“Absentees will play a part in the higher overall turnout,” Funk said. “There are voters who prefer to vote in person on Election Day and that is their choice. It’s great that we have both options–one for those who prefer to vote by absentee and those who wish to cast their vote on Election Day at the respective precinct.”
Although the deadline to turn in an absentee ballot is 8 p.m. next Tuesday, Funk said she is asking absentee voters to get their ballots in ahead of time and not wait until the last minute.
“We ask that, if at all possible, voters do return their ballot earlier than (8 p.m.), as we have to process it for the Absentee Ballot Counting Board,” she said. “If a voter has a ballot on Election Day, they need to turn into the Clerk’s Office in the Administration Building, not at their precinct.
“If a voter finds out they are positive for COVID and they would like to cast a ballot, he or she needs to contact me at (810) 701-2413 to make arrangements,” Funk added. “I am the only one who handles the COVID voters and ballots, so I need to arrange it ahead of time, as Election Day itself can get quite hectic.”
Regarding COVID-19 safeguards at the polls, Funk said that ballot secrecy sleeves will be wiped clean with disinfectant and voting booths will be cleaned once used. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available at the doors, restrooms will be closed to the public at polling locations and pens will be given to each voter to use. Election inspectors will also wear face masks to protect themselves as they work.
Voters who choose to cast absentee ballots can utilize the township’s lit, secured drop box that is monitored by a surveillance camera in the Flint Township Administration Building parking lot at 1490 S. Dye Road. Ballots can be dropped off 24/7 into the box.
Ballots can also be delivered to the township’s drop box located inside the lobby of the administration building or dropped off at the Elections Office. Voters can also mail their absentee ballots to the township (ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted).
The township clerk’s office will be open this Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. to issue and receive ballots. The polls on Election Day will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Precincts include:
West Flint Church of the Nazarene – Combined Precinct 1, 2 & 10, Combined Precinct 3 & 4.
Central Church of the Nazarene – Combined Precinct 12 & 13, Combined Precinct 14 & 15.
Our Lady of Lebanon – Combined Precinct 5 &7, Combined Precinct 8 & 9.
New Creation Church of God – Combined Precinct 6 & 11.