Sterling Heights opens new election center, installs four absentee ballot drop boxes

Sterling Heights has opened a new election center and added ballot drop boxes to make voting easier this year.

Housed within the Sterling Heights Senior Center and with voter safety in mind, the election system will offer a safe environment where residents can register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot, or apply to be a precinct worker.

"This new Election Center affords our residents the opportunity to stay safe through social distancing in a larger, more open space away from City Hall while still taking care of important election business," said City Clerk Melanie Ryska.

With the pandemic's untimely arrival during a tumultuous election year, how and where voters cast their ballots will take on a different appearance this cycle compared to previous years. One example includes the massive influx of new absentee ballot applications being issued and returned.

In Sterling Heights alone, the city has issued more than 23,000 absentee ballots, which Ryska said is a roughly 177% increase from 2016's August Primary. In Michigan's first statewide election since the COVID-19 outbreak began, mail-in ballots made up 99% of all votes cast in May's local races and millages.

For anyone in the city concerned about their ballots making it to the clerk's office, Sterling Heights has installed four absentee voter ballot drop boxes at fire states 2, 3, 4, and 5. The police station also has one. Anyone voter from the 45 precincts can use these drop boxes. 

Patrons of the election center, located at 40200 Utica Rd, can use the facility Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It'll also be open Saturday Aug. 1.