Second Clerk's Office Would Serve WMU Students In Run-Up To Fall Election

Sep 18, 2020

Absentee ballots in Garden City, Mich. in May.
Credit Paul Sancya / AP Photo

The Kalamazoo City Commission is expected to sign off on a plan Monday to make voting easier at Western Michigan University. The proposal: to open a second clerk’s office at the Bernhard Center from October 5 through the November 3 election.

In other election news, City of Kalamazoo and Portage residents who vote absentee this fall will not have to put postage on their ballots.

Bernhard Center Clerk's Office

If Kalamazoo City Commissioners approve the proposal to open a branch of the clerk’s office at WMU's Bernhard Center, any city resident could register to vote there and pick up or drop off an absentee ballot. But the office is particularly aimed at meeting demand among students. Clerk Scott Borling says two polling locations vote at the Center, and the satellite office could ease lines.

“They tend to have the longest lines" in the city, Borling said, "when you have large elections like the gubernatorial or the presidential."

“We’re really trying to do things to cut down on lines, having people standing together and congregating and so on with the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

Borling says the city plans to offer some evening and Saturday hours at both clerk’s offices.

Postage Paid

The cities of Kalamazoo and Portage are taking the state up on an offer to pay return postage for ballots cast by mail. Kalamazoo’s envelopes will have stamps on them. Portage’s will have printed first-class postage. Clerk Erica Eklov says people can see it in the next Portage newsletter.

“We’re just going to acquaint voters as to what the ink stamp’s going to look like and give them a heads-up that return postage will be paid for their ballot,” she said.

Eklov said Portage residents who vote in person on Election Day can help by bringing their own black or blue pen. That’s to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure from sharing items. Portage will have pens for voters who don’t come with one.