Absentee ballot returns raise eyebrows in Tuscola County - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Absentee ballot returns raise eyebrows in Tuscola County

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(10/23/12) - Two weeks from Tuesday is election day.

Michigan voters who have a valid excuse for not being able to vote on Nov. 6 can vote by absentee ballot.

Most return the ballots to their township office or through the mail, but one way some Tuscola County residents are returning absentee ballots is raising some eyebrows.

ABC12 spoke with many township and county clerks Tuesday, and all agreed, the way voters are returning ballots in Elkland Township is not normal.

"We are a rural county," said Tuscola County Clerk Margie White.

In Elkland Township in Tuscola County, there are just a little more than 2,500 registered voters. If they vote by absentee ballot, they drop off their ballot in a box, which sits on a porch, at the home of the Elkland Township clerk. The ballot box is chained to the mailbox at the home.

Elkland Township Clerk Ed LaBelle says he has approval from the state's Bureau of Elections to leave the box on the porch to allow absentee voters an easy way of dropping off their ballots.

"We are trying to service the voters, and make it easier for them to returns ballots, not to impede the voting process," White said.

But not everyone agrees with having the ballot box out in the open.

"But it kind seems to be it should be in the township office, where it is safe and protected," said Melanie Rutkoski, resident.

"A box like that that has an opening it, kids, doesn't have to be kids, could be adults, that come along, pour some glue in there, tar, whatever just to ruin it, spoil it, or play a prank," said Larry Robinson, Tuscola County resident.

There are also concerns the chain holding the box could be cut, and the ballot box stolen, but White is not worried.

"In my mind, if someone is out to to do damage, to collect ballots, to steal ballots, it would be easier to steal a mailbox than it would be a ballot container chained to a pillar, that's a foot and a half in diameter," White said.

ABC12 talked with a spokesperson with the Secretary of State's office, who says the Bureau of Elections does not recommend having the ballot box on a porch like that, but in this case, it's OK.

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