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Election 2020: What you need to know

-Posted on September 21, 2020

 

This MMYH blog was written by Fred Miller, the Macomb County Clerk, and Michael Grix, the Macomb County Director of Elections 

 

Forget what you may have read: there are 1,128 hours in a day. Election Day, that is. 

 

Election Day is still November 3, 2020 and neighborhood polling locations will be open from 7am – 8pm as normal for citizens to weigh in on this most important of elections. However, unlike past presidential elections, all Michigan voters are now able to cast a ballot beginning September 24 via absentee voting. What has been the preferred method of voting for senior citizens and overseas military personnel for decades can now be utilized by any and all Michigan voters.

 

 

Instead of our election being just one action-packed day, voting is open for a six-and-a-half week window. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your voting experience as hassle-free as possible. 

 

The most important tool Michigan voters have is the Michigan Voter Information Center -- www.Michigan.gov/vote -- where you can easily verify your polling location and registration status, request an absentee ballot, view a sample ballot, check the status of your absentee ballot, and more.

 

Michigan’s November 3, 2020 election is a General Election meaning that all candidates (Republican, Democratic, Minor Party, No Party Affiliation, etc.) will appear on the ballot.  Voters may choose to vote for any candidate from any party (or no party) for any race in which they want to vote, including voting a ‘split ticket’ and casting votes for candidates of different parties in various races. Non-partisan races are also on the ballot, including judges, Macomb Community College Trustees, and local school board candidates, as well as local proposals depending on the community. Voters can vote in as many or as few races as they choose and still have their ballot count.

 

Michigan General Election ballots also allow for straight party voting.  A vote for one of the political parties listed in the “straight party” section will cast a vote for all the candidates of that party on the ballot. If a voter wants to cast a ‘straight party’ vote and still cross over and vote for a candidate of a different party, the voter may do so by darkening the oval next to the candidate of their choice to override their straight party vote in just that race. Voters would still need to vote the nonpartisan and proposal sections separately. 

 

Voter Registration

Voters can register by mail, online at www.michigan.gov/vote , or in person at their local city or township clerk, county clerk, or local Secretary of State branch office up until the 15th day prior to the election. After October 20 voters can still register, up to and including on Election Day, but must do so in person with their local city or township clerk. Registrants during this period must provide proof of their residency by presenting verification document(s) which show their current address. A Michigan Driver’s License or state ID is easiest. 

 

 

Absentee Ballots and Applications

As stated above, Michigan law now allows absentee voting for all voters. Absentee ballots are counted, weighted, and secured the same as in-person voting - just submitted differently. 

 

The first step to voting an absentee ballot, aside from registering to vote, is completing the one-page absentee voter application. You can download the application form at www.macombgov.org/elections and submit directly to your local clerk or the request can be completed completely on-line at, you guessed it, www.michigan.gov/vote , where you can also track the status of your absentee application and ballot including verifying the date your ballot is received by your local clerk and your vote is “in the bank” so to speak.

 

There has been a lot of speculation about the pressures the pandemic has put on the Postal Service. If this is your concern, you have several options for casting your absentee ballot. If you request and receive your ballot early, before roughly October 20, simply stick two first class postage stamps on your ballot envelope, sign the outside of the envelope, and drop in the mailbox. Another option is utilizing a clerk’s office dropbox to deliver your ballot -- just make sure that you are using a dropbox in your home community, not that of a neighboring city or township. Once again, voters can utilize www.michigan.gov/vote to verify that their ballot was received.

 

Voters can also request and receive an absentee ballot in person at their local city or township clerk’s office during regular business hours. Voters have the choice of taking the ballot home or immediately voting and turning it in at the office. Lastly, all local clerks must be open for at least eight hours on the weekend before Election Day for the purposes of voter registration and issuing absentee ballots. Local clerks in Macomb County are open Saturday October 31. 

 

Election Inspectors

Elections don’t happen without election inspectors, the paid volunteers who step up to get trained and assist local clerks with staffing polling locations and counting ballots. Workers are needed all across the county for in-person precincts and absent voter counting boards.  Election inspectors must be registered voters.  However, you can work in any community you wish, not just your city or township of residence.  If you are interested, please contact the clerk of the community where you want to work. 

 

When in doubt, ask a clerk!

This is a lot of information to handle all at once. Add in reports we hear and read which may apply only to voters in other states and simply performing our civic duty can get to be downright confusing. No problem, we are here to help! Call the Macomb County Election Department at 586-469-5209 or email at elections@macombgov.org with any election-related questions or issues.

 

Please remember that this is OUR democracy and OUR nation but also OUR responsibility to care for it. That starts by participating in the upcoming election and making OUR voices heard. The Macomb County Election Department is at your service to help you do just that.