HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday’s elections will be the first since voters approved a proposal to streamline voter registration and allow everyone to vote absentee without giving a reason.
Proposal 3, also called the voter’s rights initiative, passed easily in November and has since taken effect.
Under the new state guidelines, citizens age 18 and older will:
- Automatically be registered to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless they resign
- Have the ability to register to vote anytime with proof that they live in Michigan
- Have access to voting via absentee ballot for any reason if they’re a registered voter
County clerks could see a slight uptick in completed ballots Tuesday. Other states that enacted similar measures reported an increase in voter turnout.
School districts across West Michigan will be anxiously watching the results come in Tuesday night.
Most measures on West Michigan ballots are proposals aimed at improving classrooms and facilities. Here are a few of the larger proposals:
WEST OTTAWA SCHOOLS: $97,950,000 BOND
The district says this bond would restore the millage rate West Ottawa voters passed in 2016, which was whittled down because of the Headlee Amendment — a measure that reduces millage rates when annual property values are growing faster than the rate of inflation.
The district says the tax rate wouldn’t be higher than the restored amount because West Ottawa has been “aggressively paying down its debt” and “’tightening its financial belt’ as much as possible without harming the education students receive.”
The district says the restored funding would help pay for upgrades to existing schools and playgrounds as well as the following:
- A new elementary school to serve the district’s southeast area
- A new 1,200-seat performing arts center at the high school
- A new 5,000-seat, multi-sport stadium at the high school
- New buses
- Band and orchestra instruments
ROCKFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $174 MILLION BOND AND $11 MILLION SINKING FUND PROPOSALS
If both proposals are approved, the district says property owners could expect an overall tax rate decrease of one mill because Rockford Public Schools is clearing 3.5 mills of debt off its books in July, which is more than the combined 2.5 mills levied by both proposals.
If approved, the bond would fund:
- A new elementary school for the west side of the district
- More classrooms at Crestwood Elementary, Roguewood Elementary, North Rockford Middle and the Freshman Center
- Improvements to North Middle School
- New school buses
SAUGATUCK PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $39,940,000 BOND PROPOSAL
The district’s proposal is a scaled back version of the $50 million proposal voters turned down during the May 2018 election. If approved, the 27-year bond would lead to a 1.36 mill tax rate increase for property owners within the district.
If approved, the bond would fund:
- Building renovations to Douglas Elementary School
- Remodeling the middle and high school
- Five buses
MUSKEGON COUNTY: 911 SURCHARGE
Muskegon County is also pitching a revised version of a 911 phone surcharge voted down in November. Muskegon County Central Dispatch wants to hike the monthly 911 surcharge from 42 cents to $2.75 per month to fund new radio towers and emergency response equipment.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Although the state has agreed to settle a Kalamazoo area lawsuit over its ban on “ballot selfies” last month, it won’t discuss changes to the guidelines until after this election. That means May 7 voters cannot take photos of their completed ballots.
Stay with 24 Hour News 8 for continuing coverage of the May 7 election. We will have live reports throughout the day and a complete list of the election results on woodtv.com.