Election Guide: Who and what is on the Nov. 3 ballot

Elections

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A hotly contested presidential election amid a global pandemic and a national outcry for social justice reform — and that’s just the top of the Nov. 3 ballot.

News 8 has been keeping an eye on elections across West Michigan. Here is just some of what you’ll find on your ballot:

Of course, the nation is voting in the presidential race between President Donald Trump, the Republican, and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat. Recent polls show Biden is holding on to a lead over Trump in Michigan.

There are also several U.S. congressional seats at stake:

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Democrat Gary Peters is challenged by Republican John James. James previously challenged and lost to Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Polls show Peters is holding on to his lead over James, though the spread is only five percentage points.

U.S. House of Representatives

In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican Bill Huizenga faces Democrat Bryan Berghoef.

The 3rd District seat is truly in play for the first time in years after Rep. Justin Amash, an independent, is not running for reelection. The increasingly close race is one of the most watched in the nation, with West Michigan considered a bellwether for the presidential election. It pits Republican Peter Meijer, a veteran, entrepreneur and grandson of Meijer co-founder Frederik Meijer, against Democrat Hillary Scholten, a former social worker and Department of Justice attorney. | Watch Oct. 1 debate

In the 6th District, longtime Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican, is challenged by Democratic state Rep. Jon Hoadley. | More

State-level races

At the state level, there are three contested Michigan House races in West Michigan:

60th District: Democrat Julie Rodgers, Kalamazoo County commissioner, faces Republican Gary Mitchell, a realtor and Ph.D., in the campaign to fill the seat Hoadley is vacating. | More

61st District: Republican Bronwyn Haltom, a former White House staffer and now a small business owner, and Democrat Christine Morse, a former attorney and current Kalamazoo County commissioner, are running for the seat, which is open because of term limits. | More

73rd District: Republican Bryan Posthumus, Democrat Bill Saxton and U.S. Taxpayers Party candidate Theodore Gerrard are running to fill an open seat. | More

Residents are also voting for two Michigan Supreme Court justices. The candidates include:

  • Incumbent Chief Justice Bridge McCormack
  • Former senior assistant prosecutor of St. Clair County Mary Kelly
  • Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Brock Swartzle
  • East Grand Rapids School Board Trustee and attorney Elizabeth Welch
  • Attorney Kerry Lee Morgan
  • Attorney Katherine Mary Nepton
  • Wayne County’s Third Circuit Court Judge Susan Hubbard

Ballot proposals

There are two statewide ballot proposals. The first deals with how some state money is directed to parks projects, removing the cap on the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and allowing for more flexibility in spending. The money in that fund comes from state oil and gas contracts and is directed to both state and local parks projects. | More

The second Michigan ballot question is a constitutional amendment that would require search warrants to search electronic data and communications, as well as guarantee that electronic data and communications are secure from unreasonable search and seizure.

Grand Rapids voters will also decide on two more questions: One would move city elections from odd to even years and the second would eliminate the practice of candidates being able to win elections outright if they garner a large enough percentage of votes in the primary. | More

In Kalamazoo County, voters are being asked to approve a housing millage that would raise $50 million over eight years. | More

There’s also a $25 million bond on ballots in Barry County to fund the construction of a new sheriff’s office and jail.

Sheriff’s offices

In Kalamazoo County, longtime sheriff Richard Fuller, a Democrat, is challenged by retired Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Capt. Shannon Bagley, a Republican.

In Kent County, Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, a Republican, faces two challengers: Democrat Marc Burns and Libertarian John Stedman. | More

In Muskegon County, Sheriff Michael Poulin, a Democrat, is challenged by Jason Hall, a Republican. The Muskegon County prosecutor, Democrat D.J. Hilson, is challenged by Republican Joshua EldenBrady.

Voting

One day before the election, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office said that more than 3.4 million voters had applied for an absentee ballot and about 2.9 million had already returned their ballot.

That means the state has surpassed its previous absentee voting record of 1.6 million, which was set in August. The numbers are historically large for two reasons: First, it recently became easier to vote absentee and second, state officials have been encouraging absentee voting as a coronavirus mitigation measure.

With Election Day so close, absentee voters are urged to return their ballot straight to their local clerk or in a drop box within their voting jurisdiction rather than us the mail to ensure it arrives in time. Ballots must be back in the clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. If you already mailed your ballot, you can check whether it has arrived at your clerk’s office on the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office website.

You can still register to vote in person at your local clerk’s office and vote absentee then and there. You may also vote in person on Nov. 3. You’re advised to check the state’s website to make sure your polling place hasn’t changed.

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