How to vote in the August 2 election

The primary in August sets the stage for the November elections. Knowing the important dates, rules and your rights as a Michigan voter will ensure your vote counts.

Michigan voters will head to the polls on August 2 to vote in primary elections to select candidates for the November General Election. The offices up for election include the U.S. and State House of Representatives, judicial positions, and local elected positions, as well as other local races and a variety of local ballot proposals depending on the region. Unfortunately, only about 18 percent of Michigan voters will head to the polls this August, if recent history is any indicator.  Since 2000, 18.4 percent has been the average voter turnout for the August primary in presidential election years in Michigan.

For those planning on voting in the August 2 election, or for those who didn’t know there was an election in August, here’s what you need to know before you head to the polls:

Am I eligible to vote? Michigan residents who are U.S. citizens, 18 years old, and registered to vote in the city or township they live in are eligible to vote. Voters can verify their registration status using the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center website.  July 5, 2016 was the deadline to register to vote in the August primary. For those who missed that deadline, but wish to vote in November, the registration deadline is October 11.

When do I vote? The August Primary Election is on August 2, 2016. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. If a voter is in line when polls close, they should remain in line as they will still be allowed to vote.

Where do I vote? Voters can find their polling location and see a preview of their ballot on the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center website.

What am I voting on? The August Primary Election is used primarily to select candidates to appear in the General Election in November. Candidates for U.S. Representative in Congress, State Representative, County Commissioner, and other local offices will be on the ballot in the Primary Election. Some areas will also have local ballot questions on their ballots. Again, voters can visit the Voter Information Center to preview their ballot before election day.

How do I vote? Registered voters can vote by going to their polling location (available on the Voter Information Center website) on Election Day, or by requesting an Absentee Voter ballot from their city or township clerk. Simply fill out this Absent Voter Ballot Application and submit it to your local clerk. Absentee voter applications must be received by the local clerk by 2 p.m. on the Saturday before the election. Absentee ballots must be completed and returned to the clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. These ballots can be sent in my mail, or dropped off in person, as long as they are received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The Secretary of State’s office asks that voters bring an acceptable form of photo identification to the polls on Election Day. However, a voter who does not have photo ID can still vote. A voter who lacks voter ID can vote by signing an affidavit at their polling location. Once the affidavit is signed, voters may cast their ballot and it will be counted with all other ballots.

Anything else? In 2015, the Michigan legislature passed a law to eliminate the option of straight ticket voting. However, a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting enforcement of this law. While straight ticket voting is not an option in the August election because it is a primary election, Michigan voters will be able to vote straight ticket in November. In the August election, voters must choose whether to vote on the Republican or Democrat side of the ballot. They may not vote on both sides of the ballot in the primary. 

For more information on elections, visit the Michigan Secretary of State’s Elections in Michigan page.

Those in Michigan State University Extension that focus on Government and Public Policy provide various training programs, which are available to be presented in your county.  Contact your local Government and Public Policy educator for more information. 

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