Todd Schmitz
Deputy Clerk

Carmella Sabaugh
Macomb County
Clerk / Register of Deeds

Betty A. Oleksik
Deputy Register of Deeds

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 12, 2006

CONTACT:

Carmella Sabaugh 586-469-7939
Ruthie Stevenson 586-675-3753
Vince Keenan 313-510-1911

 
     

SABAUGH ANNOUNCES ONLINE ABSENT BALLOT VERIFICATION
OVERSEAS TROOPS CAN VERIFY BALLOTS COUNT

Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh today launched Michigan’s first online absent ballot verification system, which she hopes will encourage voters to cast an absentee ballot. Voters may track their own absent voter application and ballot, and confirm local clerks process them.

"Until Michigan citizens get no-reason absentee voting, this system will let those who are permitted to vote absentee know their votes will be counted," said Sabaugh. "I encourage everyone who is eligible to cast an absentee ballot."

"It is important that everyone be treated fairly and have an equal opportunity to cast an absent ballot. This system also ensures the integrity of the voting process and is a new tool in keeping with the Voting Rights Act," said Ruthie Stevenson, Macomb County NAACP President. "This is a way to use technology to encourage voting and that benefits everyone."

"Macomb County Elections has put together a great service - especially since most people aren't thinking about what voting is like for our troops. Imagine trying to navigate your local election requirements from the other side of the world. When the mail takes two weeks to get to or from your post, you need to make sure you head off any problem quickly. Being able to keep an eye on your AV ballot over the internet helps guarantee overseas voters will be counted," said Vince Keenan, Director of Publius.org, a non-partisan voter information website that has been innovating online voter education in Michigan since 1996. Publius created the first statewide web site in the country that allowed voters to confirm their voter registration status online and view their sample ballots. Ironically, while Sabaugh is pioneering new online services, the Michigan Secretary of State chose to discontinue the successful relationship with publius.org's online voter education programs. Publius.org is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) voter education organization. Publius does not endorse candidates for public office. Publius encourages voters to independently research election issues and candidates and make informed decisions.

Visitors to Sabaugh’s web site http://www.macombcountymi.gov/clerksoffice may click the, "Track My Absentee Ballot" link and be prompted for last name, zip code, street number, and birth date. The system shows the date the local clerk received the voter’s absent voter application, mailed the ballot, and received their marked ballot.

A person may get an absent voter application form on Sabaugh’s web site and may request a ballot if one of the six statutory reasons apply.

"My hope is for absent ballot tracking to be done statewide," said Sabaugh.

This system has no additional cost to taxpayers. It uses existing technology to link the county’s web server to the state’s public Qualified Voter File. The Macomb County clerk’s office has read-only access to the QVF, meaning it can read data but cannot change it.

In 2004, Macomb County had 96,095 absent voters, while there were 60,298 in 2002. Absent voters are expected to be a significant percentage of the vote in this November’s general election.

This is not the first voting improvement by Sabaugh. She recently got 17-9 bipartisan support from the Macomb County Board of Commissioners to give senior citizens an equal opportunity to get an absent voter application form. Until now, local clerks in 11 communities automatically mailed absent voter application forms to all seniors, while local clerks in the county’s other 13 communities did not. Sabaugh got approval to mail absent voter application forms to the 49,234 county seniors who would have been excluded.

"Over 49,000 seniors would have been excluded if the Board of Commissioners had not approved my plan," said Sabaugh. "Now that all county seniors are being treated equally, it is appropriate we use technology to let people know their absentee ballots are counted."

Using technology to improve service is nothing new for Sabaugh. She was the first clerk to post online the names of campaigns that violate campaign finance rules and create a system to let candidates pay fines online. She also posts county and local campaign finance statements online placing Macomb County among the top counties regarding public disclosure and accountability.

As Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds, she has also done the following:

  • Offers evening hours.
  • Overnight delivery service for vital records.
  • Free bus trips to help jurors do their civic duty.
  • Let concealed weapons permit applicants check their permit status online.
  • Toll-free, 24-hour fax-on-demand system providing forms and information.
  • Wireless Internet access in the jury room.
  • Business registration index and death record index on the Internet.
  • Start a Personal Protection Order Assistance Center to help victims of abuse.
  • Free library book delivery for those on jury duty.
  • Computerized scanning for a register of deeds.
  • Mobile branch office.
  • Competitive bids for election supplies saving hundreds of thousands of dollars

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Clerk's Office
40 N. Main St.
Mount Clemens, MI 48043
586-469-5120
Fax: 586-783-8184
http://www.macombcountymi.gov/clerksoffice
clerksoffice@macombcountymi.gov

Fax-On-Demand

Michigan: 1-888-99-CLERK
Out of State: 310-575-5035

Register of Deeds
10 N. Main St.
Mount Clemens, MI 48043
586-469-5175
Fax: 586-469-5130
http://www.macombcountymi.gov/registerdeeds

registerdeeds@macombcountymi.gov