Kalamazoo Voters Invited to Join Permanent Absentee Ballot Request List

Registered voters in the City of Kalamazoo will soon see an invitation to join the Permanent Absentee Ballot Request List in their mailbox. Voters on this list receive a date-specific absentee ballot request leading up to every election, allowing them to easily obtain and vote via absentee ballot. The postcard informs voters about the option to join this list and invites them to be added to the list by returning an attached response card. Of the approximately 54,400 registered voters in the City, 4,600 voters are currently on the Permanent Absentee Ballot Request List.

Prior to 2019 voters were required to declare a qualifying “reason” why they needed an absentee ballot. Changes to state law in 2019 now allow "no reason" absentee voting, which means all voters are eligible to vote absentee. Additional information is provided below: 

Can you automatically mail me a ballot for each election?

  • The City Clerk’s Office cannot automatically send ballots to voters. In order to issue an absentee ballot we must have a written request from the voter that is specific for that election.

What's it mean to be on the permanent absentee ballot request list?

  • Being on the permanent request list means the City Clerk’s Office will send a date-specific absentee ballot request form to the voter prior to every election. In order to get a ballot, a voter on the permanent request list must sign and return the absentee ballot request form for that election.

If I am on the list or receive an absentee ballot do I have to vote absentee?

  • Receiving an absentee ballot request form does not obligate the voter to cast an absentee ballot for that election. If a voter receives an absentee ballot request but doesn’t want to vote in that particular election or wants to vote in person on election day, they can throw the form away. If the voter does not return the request form there is no consequence to the voter’s registration status, their ability to vote in person on election day, their ability to request an absentee ballot for future elections, or their place on the permanent request list.

Do I have to register for the permanent absentee ballot request list?

  • Being on the permanent request list is optional. Voters are not required to be on the permanent request list in order to be registered to vote or to get an absentee ballot. A voter who does not want to be on the permanent request list can still get an absentee ballot for a specific election.

How can I be added to the permanent absentee ballot request list?

  • Voters must ask to be on the list. The City Clerk’s Office cannot put voters on the permanent list without a request from the voter.

How can I request to be added to the permanent absentee ballot request list?

  • Voters can request to be on the permanent application list in writing or verbally, including over the phone.

Do I have to get an absentee ballot request form from the City of Kalamazoo?

  • Voters who want an absentee ballot are not required to use the City’s form. The City’s form will have the voter’s information printed on it, which makes it easier for the voter. But there is a generic State of Michigan Absent Voter Ballot Application form on the Secretary of State’s website. Also, a voter can simply make their request in writing with their signature. They don’t need to use a form at all.

Does my permanent absentee ballot request status transfer between jurisdictions?

  • Local clerks are not required to maintain a permanent request list. Because of this, the permanent request status does not transfer with the voter’s record from one jurisdiction to another. If a person was on the permanent request list in one jurisdiction and then they move, they will need to contact the clerk in their new jurisdiction and ask to be added to that clerk’s permanent request list.


Kalamazoo Residents Encouraged to Take a “Day On” for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Kalamazoo residents are encouraged to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by taking part in the annual community-wide day of service on Monday, January 20.  Now in its 19th year, the Community-Wide day of service invites residents to put the teaching and philosophy of Dr. King in action, taking time to volunteer for causes that will make our community stronger and make our city a better place.

The Community-Wide Day of Service is a collaboration between the City of Kalamazoo, United Way of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Region, Western Michigan University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Kalamazoo College, and the Northside Ministerial Alliance.

Community members are invited to participate in any type of community service, for any cause or organization that is important to them. Gryphon Place is also coordinating volunteers and volunteer opportunities. Gryphon Place may also be reached by phone at (269) 381-1510 ext. 242. Volunteers may also register onsite at City Hall on Monday, January 20 between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.

Mayor David Anderson will welcome volunteers with light breakfast at City Hall at 8:30am in the Community Room at City Hall, before community service begins. Starting at 4pm, community members will meet at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center for a commemorative walk to Martin Luther King, Jr. park for a wreath laying ceremony, which is expected to begin around 4:40pm. A community reception will follow at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. For information on public transportation to and from events, visit www.kalamazoocity.org/mlk or contact Metro at (269) 337-8222.

Over the past 18 years, the City and other community organizations have come together to make this holiday a meaningful experience and an opportunity to do something good for others. It has been a day that reflects the life, teaching, and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., bringing people together around the common focus of service to others and breaking down the social and economic barriers that divide our nation.

In coordination with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community-Wide Day of Service, the City of Kalamazoo will again present Social Justice Youth Awards to deserving young residents of the Kalamazoo area. The awards recognize the achievements of students aged 12-19 in the areas of racial justice, community service, volunteerism, and leadership. The City of Kalamazoo awards the Dr. Lewis Walker Award, which honors Dr. Walker’s legacy as a trailblazer for the progression of racial equity in Kalamazoo. The recipient of this award will receive a $500 scholarship along with a certificate of recognition. Six additional Social Justice Youth Awards will be presented by the program’s sponsors: Consumers Energy, Schupan and Sons, Fifth Third Bank, Life EMS, Lodge-Dennis, and Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War. These award recipients will receive a $300 scholarship and a certificate of recognition. All awards will be presented at the City Commission meeting on Tuesday, January 21.

For additional information about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community-Wide Day of Service, contact the City of Kalamazoo City Manager’s Office at (269) 337-8047 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Foundation for Excellence Funds February 7 Expungement Event with Kalamazoo Defender at NACD

The City of Kalamazoo Attorney’s Office has partnered with the Kalamazoo Defender Office, Kalamazoo County Bar Association, and County Courts to create a unique Expungement Clinic in Kalamazoo, which is hosting its first event of 2020 at the Northside Association for Community Development (NACD). The purpose of the expungement clinic partnership, aided by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, is to eliminate a barrier to employment for individuals who have criminal records. 

The February 7, 2020, event will run from 2pm to 5pm at the NACD, 612 North Park Street.  Food and refreshments will be served. 

Under the partnership, the Defenders Office will organize a second criminal record expungement event in the second quarter of this year and establish a “drop-in” expungement clinic each Friday at their offices in Suite 300 at 151 S. Rose St. in downtown Kalamazoo.  

"Criminal convictions can operate like an anchor around the necks of our friends, neighbors and family members,” said Josh Hilgart, Executive Director of Kalamazoo Defender. “This initiative will improve their chances in making a fresh start."

Foundation for Excellence (FFE) will fund the expungement costs of all City of Kalamazoo residents seeking and qualifying for expungement services under this partnership, while Kalamazoo Defender will cover such expenses for all other qualifying Kalamazoo County residents.

“The City of Kalamazoo and Foundation for Excellence are grateful to all partners in this initiative that will help ease the path to employment for over 100 city residents in 2020,” said Steve Brown, Foundation for Excellence Coordinator. 

About Kalamazoo Defender

Kalamazoo Defender is this County's first public defender office. On July 1, 2019, it began to accept as clients all adult criminal defendants within Kalamazoo County determined by the judiciary to be unable to afford legal representation. Kalamazoo Defender was chosen for this role after Kalamazoo County government boldly decided to award a contract to a non-profit that would have independence from the County and the courts.

About the Foundation for Excellence

The Foundation for Excellence (FFE) was created to address systemic challenges to the prosperity of the city in order to help make Kalamazoo the most dynamic, fulfilling and equitable place that it can be for all neighbors to live, work, and enjoy life. To address its challenges the FFE provides funds to stabilize the City’s budget, lower the property tax rate, and invest in the City’s aspirational community projects and programs. A fundraising campaign will work to fully endow the FFE with the goal of sustaining its work in perpetuity


City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.


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 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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