by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
With the primary election scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2, many Shiawassee County residents are getting ready to have their voices be heard by casting ballots for the candidates of their choosing. However, many voters will stay away from the polls for a number of reasons. Voter turnout for the March 2016 election was high, as more then 35 percent of registered Shiawassee County voters cast ballots, but only 19 percent of county voters turned out for the 2014 August primary, and only 24 percent in the 2012 August primary during a Presidential election year. With the help of the Michigan Secretary of State website, here is a list of many frequently asked questions relating to the primary election.
- While the deadline to register to vote has long passed, voters who did register at least 30 days prior to the election will be allowed to vote at their designated voting stations, which can be found by viewing the Michigan Voters Information Center on the Michigan Secretary of State website. All polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
- Absentee ballots are allowed for certain Shiawassee County voters, but the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot through the local clerk’s office was 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 30. Persons can still request an emergency absentee ballot at their city or township clerk’s office after the 2 p.m. deadline, and before 4 p.m. on election day, if they have become physically unable to attend the polls, have experienced a death in the family, or if an illness precludes the person from being in the community for election day. Regular and emergency absentee ballots must be turned into the voter’s designated polling station by 8 p.m. on Aug. 2.
- Voters will be asked to provide photo identification at the polls, though persons can sign an affidavit stating they do not have a photo ID. The forms of photo identification accepted include a state driver’s license, a federal or state government-issued photo ID, a U.S. passport, a photo ID from a high school or accredited institution of higher learning, and a tribal ID card with a photo. Also, voters do not need their voter registration cards to vote.
- No election clothing or literature is allowed within 100 feet of polling stations. Persons will be asked to remove or cover clothing and political buttons, and cannot disperse pamphlets, stickers, or fliers.
- Though straight-party voting was eliminated in 2015, primary voters can only vote for one party’s candidates on the Aug. 2 ballot. The choice of whether to vote democratic or republican is made at the polling station on election day. Also, voters are not required to vote the entire ticket, so feel free to pick and choose which seats to vote for.
- There are no cameras allowed in the polling stations, which, by extension means cell phone use is generally prohibited as well.
- Persons confined in jail awaiting arraignment or sentencing are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, but those serving sentences are disqualified.
Additional voter information can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State website, www.michigan.gov/sos. Voters can preview their ballot electronically at https://vote.michigan.gov/mvi