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Are You Prepared for Michigan’s Presidential Primary?

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Warren, Mich., resident Barbara Wilder prepares to submit her ballot for the Michigan Primary election at Siersma Elementary School in Warren on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (Salwan Georges/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Michigan’s presidential primary election is just around the corner. On March 10, all Michigan registered voters will have the opportunity to vote in either the Democratic or Republican Party primary.

You do not have to be registered with a political party in order to participate in either primary, however, according to Michigan election law, you will be required to “indicate in writing, on a form prescribed by the secretary of state,” which party’s primary you wish to vote in, after which you will be given that party ballot. Your party ballot selection will be made public, however, the primary uses secret ballots and so who you vote for will not be disclosed. Polling stations are open on the day of the vote between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

You also have to be a registered Michigan voter. You can check to see if you are registered to vote by visiting the website https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us. If you are already registered, then you can use the website to find the polling station where you are supposed to vote, the location and phone number of your local clerk’s office, and see a preview of the upcoming ballot.

If you are not already registered to vote, Michigan has same-day registration, so as long as you register prior to the closing of the polling stations on the day of the primary you can participate in it.

That being said, you will have to register in person at your local clerk’s office and show proof of residency if you want to take part in the primary. This is because the primary is taking place in less than 15 days. Proof of residency can be a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck or government check, or any other government document with your name and address on it. You must be a Michigan resident, a U.S. citizen, 18 years old on the day of the vote, and not currently serving any jail or prison sentences in order to be eligible to register and vote.

If you are going to be out of town on the day of the primary or you will be too busy to vote on that day, you can use an absent voter ballot. In order to get an absent voter ballot, you must request one from your city or township clerk. The application for this ballot can be found online or at your local clerk’s office. According to michigan.gov/sos/, “requests may be returned by hand, via postal mail, fax, or email, as long as a signature is visible.” You do not need to provide a reason to get an absent voter ballot.

If you want an absent voter ballot mailed to you, you must request it before 5 p.m. on March 6, the Friday before the primary, otherwise, you have until 4 p.m. on March 9, the day before the primary, to request one in person at your local clerk’s office. After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on the day of the primary to fill it out and return it with your signature on the return envelope. According to michigan.gov/sos/, “only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or election official is authorized to deliver your signed absent voter ballot to your clerk’s office.”

If an emergency occurs that prevents you from reaching the polls on the day of the primary and it is past the deadline for a normal absent voter ballot, you can request an emergency absent voter ballot before 4 p.m. on the day of the primary.