New Absentee Ballot Envelope Design, Procedure

Local Clerks Want Absentee Voters Aware of New Envelope Design, Procedure

With the March 10 presidential primary election approaching, clerks from Plainfield and Cascade townships, along with the cities of Kentwood and East Grand Rapids, are asking absentee voters to be aware of the newly designed absentee ballot envelopes sent in the mail.

New ballot designThe state of Michigan redesigned absentee voter ballot envelopes to adhere to U.S. Postal Service standards. This change is effective statewide, but may cause confusion among voters. Clerks want to make sure voters understand the changes so they don’t accidentally discard their ballots.

“The newly designed absent voter ballot envelopes are very different from the large tan envelopes previously used,” said Plainfield Township Clerk Cathleen Postmus. “Since this is the first election where the state will widely use these envelopes, it is important voters recognize the new design and process in order to cast their vote properly.” 

A blue and white envelope will be mailed to voters with their name and address, along with instructions on how to return the ballot. Inside the blue envelope will be a green and white envelope containing the secrecy sleeve and ballot.

The blue envelope tells the postal service the ballot goes to the voter and the green envelope tells the postal service the ballot goes to the clerk.

“We are expecting record turnout for all three elections in 2020: the March 10 presidential primary, the Aug. 4 state primary and the Nov. 3 general election,” said Cascade Township Clerk Sue Slater. “We are hopeful these new envelopes will be easily understood by voters. The instructions are clear.”

Once the ballot is completed, it should be placed in the secrecy sleeve and put into the green envelope. Absentee voters must sign and date the back of the green envelope.

The blue envelope should not be returned in the mail and can be discarded.

“Absentee voting provides great benefits to both the voter and precincts on Election Day,” said East Grand Rapids City Clerk Karen Brower. “More absentee voters will reduce long lines at the polls and allow voters to take their time to understand and vote for each question on the ballot without feeling rushed.”

In 2018, Michigan voters largely approved no-reason absentee voting. The March 10 presidential primary will be the first election the state will primarily use the new envelopes.

Voters can request an absent voter ballot by submitting this application, a letter, postcard or a pre-printed application form obtained from their local clerk's office. Requests may be returned by hand, via postal mail, fax or email, as long as a signature is visible.

“Now that Michigan allows all eligible and registered voters to vote absentee without providing a reason, this method has and will continue to become very popular,” said City of Kentwood Clerk Dan Kasunic. “Educating voters ahead of time will be vital to ensure everyone’s vote is counted.” 

For questions, please visit or contact Kentwood's City Clerk’s office at 616.554.0730. You can also go to to verify your voter registration, view a sample ballot and find more election information.