City of Marquette Sends Record Number of Absentee Ballots, Opening Satellite Voter Office


As we mark off the final days of September, I have a shocking piece of news for most: We are now within 40 days of the 2020 Presidential Election.

And while many in Michigan are looking forward to the end of a busy season of campaign ads, people around the state are considering how to most quickly, safely and effectively participate in the November 3 election.

For many, the simple answer is that they will vote in-person at a traditional polling place on Election Day.

However, the average Michigan voter now has better access than ever–and during a global pandemic, perhaps more reason than ever–to an absentee ballot.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 3, which made several election-related changes to the Michigan Constitution.

Broadly stated, these shifts impacted voter registration deadlines and absentee ballot access. In the wake of Proposal 3, the State of Michigan has embraced technology in a real way and this absentee process has become streamlined.

If you want to check your voter registration status, register to vote, request an absentee ballot or track the status of your ballot, this can all be completed online now at

If a voter has issues or questions beyond the services provided at that site, they should contact their local clerk directly; this contact information is also available on that state portal.

Those looking to apply for an absentee ballot can use that web form, or they can request an application directly from their clerk. In most cases, a voter can now go to their clerk’s office and request a ballot in person.

Many, it seems, have found the first steps of this process to be simple.

Statewide, more than 2 million ballots–a record–are being mailed out this month to voters who have requested them. This number will continue to climb rapidly as new requests come in during the weeks leading up to Election Day on November 3.

Locally, our staff in the City Clerk’s Office have been working to process and mail more than 5,600 absentee ballot applications.

This number represents nearly 40 percent of the registered voters in the City and is, by far, the most ballots we’ve ever sent out in a single election.

In Michigan, elections are managed locally by more than 1,500 clerks at a township, village and city level, so the specific process may differ slightly depending on your jurisdiction. However, absentee voters in the City of Marquette should expect the following process:

  1. As stated, City residents can check their registration status online at the State’s website. There, they can update their registration address or get information to register to vote. Alternately, they can register to vote through the Secretary of State’s office, or they can call our office. Registrations can be completed online, by mail or with the Secretary of State until Oct. 20. After that date, voters must register in person in our office. 
  2. Once registered, a voter can request an absentee ballot online (again, If this is not an option for the voter, they can contact our office and have an application mailed to them or they can schedule a time to come to our office. 
  3. If we receive an application electronically or by mail, staff will send a ballot out as soon as possible – typically this will be done the next business day. If a voter is applying for a ballot in person, the ballot will be handed to them over the counter. 
  4. Once voted, the ballot is returned to the envelope, which is signed and can be returned to our office in a number of ways. Staff records all ballots as received and they are stored until Election Day, when they are opened and tabulated in a special precinct.

In the City of Marquette, we’re working to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, regardless of whether that’s by mail or in person.

To that end, our main office at City Hall is open to voters, though we ask that you make an appointment ahead of time. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 906-228-0430 or by visiting

Beginning on October 5, we will also have a satellite office operating on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

This office will be located in Room 1205 of the Northern Center, and will serve as a location for citizens to register to vote, as well as a place to apply for and return balloting materials. Keep an eye on the City’s website and Facebook feed for information on specific operating hours for this office.

For the first time in the history of our office, we are sending out ballots that have return postage on the envelopes. If a voter receives a ballot in the mail, they can deposit the signed envelope in any postal box to have it returned, free of charge.

And for those that are looking to return their ballot without using the postal system, voters can bring them to the NMU satellite office, or they can place them in one of our 24-hour drop boxes.

These secure containers–under surveillance video–are located at City Hall at 300 W. Baraga Avenue, beneath the overhang at the main entrance, as well as at the Marquette Municipal Service Center, located at 1100 Wright Street.

As always, we have information available online at, and any questions can be directed to us at 906-228-0430 or by email at

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Kyle Whitney

Kyle Whitney is the City Clerk of Marquette, where staff is expecting more than 70 percent of the 14,500 registered voters to cast a vote in November. He has worked for the City for more than seven years--five in the Clerk’s Office. Kyle grew up in the western Upper Peninsula, graduated from NMU in 2009 and currently lives in Marquette with his family.

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