GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s general election is already underway, with absentee ballots coming in and people preparing to vote in person on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Voters will decide who sits in the state’s top offices and whether to implement constitutional amendments.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT
If you still have to return your absentee ballot, drop it off in person at your clerk’s office or a drop box within your jurisdiction — it’s too late to be sure a mailed ballot will make it back to your clerk’s office by Election Day. Clerks will not count any ballots received after 8 p.m. Election Day, even if they were postmarked by Nov. 8.
To find a drop box, go to Michigan.gov/vote and click on “Your Clerk.” Enter your address to be directed to your local clerk’s office and list of drop box locations.
In-person polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. People who have received absentee ballots can also change their mind and vote in person. If you do this, bring your absentee ballot to your polling place and surrender it to poll workers, who will spoil it. If your ballot was lost or damaged or you simply forgot it, tell poll workers you received one. They will check with the clerk’s office and have you sign an affidavit.
“That initial absentee ballot will be considered a ‘spoiled’ ballot, so even if it does arrive it will not be counted, and the voter is then able to vote in-person at the polling place,” Michigan Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Jake Rollow explained earlier this week.
Since the implementation of no-reason absentee voting in Michigan, absentee ballots remain popular: Over 1 million have already been returned. Remember that a large number of absentee ballots slows the count. Clerks can now start processing (but not counting) those ballots early, which will hopefully speed things up, but elections officials warn that the count may not be finished statewide until late Wednesday, and that means it could take a while for tight races to be called.
It’s too late to register to vote or request an absentee ballot online or via the mail, but you can still do those things in person at your local clerk’s office up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
WHAT’S ON THE NOV. 8 BALLOT IN MICHIGAN?
Tuesday’s ballot is long, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the races and candidates and make your choices before you head to the polls. You can check your sample ballot online at the Michigan Secretary of State Voter Information Center and the League of Women Voters lists information about candidates on its website.
At the top of the ticket is the race for governor. Republican Tudor Dixon is challenging incumbent Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The two have met for three debates, including one at WOOD TV8 last month.
Republican Matt DePerno is challenging state Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat.
Incumbent Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, faces a challenger in Republican Kristina Karamo.
All three Republican challengers are new to politics. Dixon was formerly a businessperson and broadcaster, DePerno is a tax attorney and Karamo used to be a community college professor.
An EPIC-MRA poll released Thursday showed all three Democratic incumbents with leads over their challengers, but some — particularly the race for AG — were tight.
Michigan has three ballot proposals this year.
Proposal 1 would require members of the state Legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general to file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023. It would also alter term limits in the Legislature. Currently, a person may serve six years in the state House of Representatives and eight in the Senate. If Proposal 2 passes, that would be changed to a total of 12 years in either or both chambers.
Proposal 2 is a constitutional amendment including a number of election reforms. Under it, the state would add nine days of early in-person voting, count military or overseas absentee ballots if they are postmarked by election day, and pay for absentee application and ballot postage and absentee ballot drop boxes. The proposal would also enshrine in the constitution the right to vote without harassment, the verification of identity with photo ID or signed statement and allowing a single application for absentee voting in all elections. It would allow donations to fund elections, mandate that only election officials may conduct post-election audits and require canvass boards to certify results based only on the official records of the votes cast.
Proposal 3 is perhaps the most charged issue on the ballot. If passed, it would enshrine reproductive freedoms, including the right to abortions, in the state constitution. The ballot language specifies that the state would be allowed to regulate abortion after fetal viability but not prohibit it if it is required to protect a patient’s life or mental health, invalidates conflicting state laws already on the books and forbids the prosecution of anyone for seeking, getting or performing an abortion.
3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Republican John Gibbs and Democrat Hillary Scholten are competing to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which after being redrawn covers metro Grand Rapids and much of Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.
Gibbs, a former Trump administration employee who has been endorsed by the former president, unseated incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer in the Republican primary in August. Scholten, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney, was previously defeated by Meijer in the general election in 2020.
Every Michigan House of Representatives and Senate seat is up for grabs. The state’s legislative lines have been redrawn, and that could have an effect on who controls the chambers. Both are currently held by Republicans and have been for years — the House since 2010 and the Senate since 1984.
Voters are also filling out the Michigan Board of Education and the boards for Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.
Two Michigan Supreme Court seats are also up for election, with two incumbents seeking to hold their seats. You will also see appeals courts and county judgeships.
LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS
If any seats are up for election in your local school district, you may notice an unusually long slate of candidates. Those races are more crowded now than in recent years, a Target 8 review found.
That’s because they’ve become a main stage for national culture wars, with conservative candidates lining up on platforms regarding sexuality and race issues. That, in turn, has brought out liberal candidates on the other side.
“This is an unusual election,” Grand Valley State University political scientist Roger Moiles previously told Target 8 investigators. “We don’t normally see this much attention put on candidates for school board.”
“I think this is driven by a lot of national forces,” he added.
School board members are generally responsible for setting budgets and routine policies.
News 8 will have coverage online and on air all day Tuesday, including extended coverage on WXSP starting at 8 p.m. and on WOOD TV8 starting at 10 p.m.