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Column: What you need to know before voting on Tuesday

With the election only 7 days away, The Collegiate has provided a guide for what to expect on the ballots this year.

By Matthew Rios – Collegiate Staff

Before polls open next week, there are a few things you need to know beforehand. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. You can vote between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Voting locations depend on where you live, and you can find out where you can cast your vote and a sample ballot by visiting michigan.gov/vote.

This sample ballot can be found on the Secretary of State website.

Your ballot will show the candidates for one of the 110 state districts, and 14 congressional districts below the presidential candidates. You will also see names for candidates seeking election to county, judicial, and township seats. You will also select members to serve on state, community and local school boards.

With your sample ballot, you can copy and paste the candidates’ names into Google and get to know their stances and backgrounds. Many candidates have direct links to their websites available in the sample ballot. You can also find instructions on how to fill out your ballot by following this link.

After you decide which candidate is your choice for the given seat, print out your sample ballot and circle or highlight your votes. There is not a law in Michigan that says you cannot have a cheat sheet. Cell phone usage is restricted, though. The Michigan procedural manual put out by the Michigan Bureau of Elections for poll workers discloses the following about cell phones:

“The use of cell phones by voters who have entered a voting station to vote is prohibited. Voters may be permitted to use cell phones while waiting in line at the processing table if not disruptive to the voting process. Similarly, challengers and poll watchers may use cell phones if not disruptive or intrusive. (Of course, as noted above, the video camera, still camera and recording features built into many cell phones can never be used in the polls.)”     

That would mean no ballot selfies. If you need a picture of yourself voting, it could cost you your vote, so keep that in mind.

You will also want to bring identification with you when you go to vote. Acceptable forms of I.D. are:  

  1. Michigan driver’s license or personal identification card
  2. A driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state
  3. Federal or state government-issued picture identification
  4. U.S. passport
  5. Military identification card with picture
  6. Student identification with picture from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education
  7. Tribal identification card with picture.

If you do not have the forms of identification detailed above, you will need to sign an affidavit stating you are not in possession of any of the forms of identification the state of Michigan allows.

Michigan Secretary of State also has a three minute video about voting in a Michigan polling place that can prepare you for election day.

Election day is about more than two candidates. To give you a taste of the buffet of names awaiting you Nov. 8 here are two of the races you will see on your ballot. So as not to be cruel, the candidates’ websites are linked.

The names are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.   

President of the United States of America: (Select one)

Donald J. Trump (R)

Hillary Clinton (D)

Gary Johnson (L)

Darrell L. Castle (U.S. Tax Payers)

Jill Stien (G)

Emidio Mimi Soltysik (Natural Law)

For U.S. House of Representatives:

Justin Amash (R)

Douglas Smith (D)

Ted Gerrard (U.S. Taxpayers)

These are just two of the races. Many more are awaiting you on your ballot. For you partisan folks who think you can vote straight Republican or Democrat, some races are not partisan. You either do some prep before election day or make uneducated votes.

One race that no one in the GRCC community should be uneducated on is the GRCC Board of Trustees race. Three seats are available and the five candidates, Kenyatta Brame, Kathleen Bruinsma, David Koejte, C.J. Shroll, and Keith M. Wakefield, are vying for the three open seats.

The Collegiate interviewed all the board candidates in a previous article. Other items awaiting your voice on Nov. 8 are the ballot proposals. This election cycle has no statewide ballot proposals. That means the proposals up for vote are county and city, and/or township proposals. What, if any, proposals need your approval or disapproval will be shown on your sample ballot. The proposals are detailed on the sample ballot as they will appear on your real ballot. However, these ballot proposals are written in the dreaded lawyer tongue. That is why it is wise, if not crucial, to research these proposals on your own and verify them for yourself. Keep in mind that Google doesn’t fact check so take you time and use sources that you could hold up in a court of law as reputable.

Voting is not a chore. It is the greatest avenue we have to decide the direction of our communities. Our vote decides who will choose the books our children learn from, contractors that repair our roads, and treatment of our water systems. Our vote is our voice in those events. We can choose to be educated speakers or not.


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