WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — For the last 48 hours, clerks' offices in metro Detroit have been a buzz.
Monday marked the last day for voters to request an absentee ballot at their respective clerks' offices. Contrary to other absentee ballot requests earlier this fall, voters were required to fill out ballots in person and return them before leaving.
"It’s always crowded in the school where we vote and I thought this would be the easiest way to do it," said Richard Tuttle who cast his ballot in West Bloomfield Township Monday afternoon.
The West Bloomfield Township Clerk's office saw a steady stream of voters at the polls Monday making their voices heard.
"Gas prices, food prices, I mean I’m doing okay but I worry about everybody. That’s my biggest issue," said Rona Avery after voting.
Township Clerk Debbie Binder says this election, many voters were slow to bring in their ballots, but they began to trickle in at a much higher rate in the last two days. She says as of 1 p.m. Monday around 83% of absentee ballots sent out had been received back.
Binder says they staff 250-400 workers to cover 26 precincts in the township. This election cycle she says they'll also be relying on the Oakland County Absent Voter Counting Board (AVCB) which will tally the bulk of the township's absentee ballots on election day.
"People think we put out a ballot box on Election Day, we take the ballots and we count them in a few hours but the truth is there’s three or four months of preparation and at least three or four weeks of follow up," said Binder.
Monday Binder took 7 Action News crews through the checks and balances each ballot goes through before it makes it to a tabulator.
Binder says the ballots are first time/date stamped by election workers who collect the ballots directly from voters at the front desk or from the ballot box. Then the ballots are scanned into the qualified voter file which is a state of Michigan database. This part of the process helps voters to track the status of their ballots on the state's website.
From there the ballots go to another group of election workers to be sorted and go through a verification process.
"It’s basically verifying the signature, checking off that the signature has been checked on the ballot itself and then pairing up the application, writing the date it was received and the initials of the person doing the receiving and verification of that ballot," said Binder.
The ballots are sorted again by precinct before being put into respective bins where they are held ahead of Election Day tabulation.
"The ballots will come back here attached to their application. Linda is intaking them and Holly is putting them in order by their precinct number and their ballot number and then we interfile them with the ones that have already been balanced," said Binder.
Binder says this process has changed in some ways with the passing of recent state proposals and laws but has remained safe and secure despite misinformation.
"When you started your work as a clerk did you ever imagine it would be a position under such a small magnifying glass" 7 Action New Reporter Whitney Burney asked.
"The job I was elected to in 2016 and the job I do today are really very different jobs and it has been under a magnifying glass. I’m the president of the Oakland County Clerk's Association which is a very bipartisan group of my colleagues and I trust anyone of them with my ballot because I trust the process and I know the process," said Binder.
Binder says she encourages any citizen with questions about elections to call their local clerk or participate/work in an election to see the checks and balances themselves.
West Bloomfield Township says with help from the county AVCB, they’re hoping to have results late on election night.