GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters around West Michigan will go to the polls Tuesday, casting ballots on millages, bonds and some local offices.
In-person polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday. If you’re voting absentee but haven’t yet returned your ballot, it’s too late to put it in the mail and trust that it will get to your clerk’s office in time. The ballot must be returned by the time polls close Tuesday to get counted — a postmark before or by Nov. 7 isn’t good enough. Instead of putting it in the mail, take it to your clerk’s office or leave it in an election drop box in your jurisdiction.
East Grand Rapids has been testing out early voting for this election. Starting with the Feb. 27 presidential primary, at least nine days of early voting will be required for all statewide elections after Michigan voters last year approved a number of reforms.
Visiting an East Grand Rapids polling spot Thursday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said that so far, the new systems are working well.
“We started working with clerks to sort out the technology,” Benson said, “because one of the most important things we need to ensure is that if someone votes early, we all know instantly, it’s updated instantly to the voter file so there is no ability for someone to go to another place or request an absentee ballot or in any way vote more than once. And so that new technology in particular is being tested now, and it’s been really great to see work better than we expected.”
Here are some of the Nov. 7 elections News 8 is watching:
MILLAGES AND BONDS
East Grand Rapids Public Schools is asking voters to approve a $158.9 million bond. The district says it will not raise taxes. It would pay for a multi-story building addition, “extensive” renovations and classroom improvements.
The Forest Hills Public School District has both a millage and a bond on the ballot:
The operating millage would carry a 0.5 mill increase. If the millage is passed, the district says it would collect nearly $400,000 in the first year.
The $340 million bond would not increase taxes, the district says. It would pay for classroom upgrades and accessible playground equipment, a new aquatic center and other building renovations, new buses and more.
Grand Haven Area Public Schools has two bond proposals on the ballot:
Bond Proposal I seeks to borrow about $118.3 million to pay for building a new middle school, security improvements, new school buses, new technology and more. It carries an estimated simple average millage of 1.92 mills annually.
Proposal II would have an estimated simple average annual millage of 0.55 mills to fund an about $28.7 million bond to fund a multi-purpose facility and other upgrades, plus new musical instruments. An infrastructure bond that would have paid for a new middle school was rejected in May.
Grand Rapids Public Schools is seeking a 20-year, $305 million bond that it says will not raise taxes. The dollars would pay for building upgrades, consolidation improvements, athletics renovations, technology, playgrounds and security.
Kalamazoo County is asking voters to approve a 0.1 millage that would raise $1 million annually for the next decade to support veterans services.
The Kent District Library is asking for a 15-year renewal of its operating millage. It says the renewal will include a 1.1 mill levy, about 11% lower than the current rate. It says it will close if its current millage expires.
The Patmos Library in Jamestown Township is, for a third time, seeking a renewal of its millage. It has failed twice before over community objections to LGBTQ-themed materials in the stacks. Library leaders say without the millage, the library will ultimately be forced to close.
West Ottawa Public Schools is seeking a $237 million bond to fund building, mechanical and technology upgrades. The district says it would decrease the debt tax rate by 0.25 mills from this year’s rate.
Grand Haven voters will decide on a charter amendment that would dissolve the Board of Light and Power and give the city council control of the utility.
City of Kalamazoo voters are deciding whether they want to institute ranked choice voting. If it passes, in future elections, voters would rank candidates for mayor and city commission by preference rather than picking just one.
Kent County’s Alpine Township has a question on the ballot that would either approve or toss out the rezoning of the land along 4 Mile Road where Gracewil Country Club now sits for a future housing development called Wilder Crossings.
A number of leaders in Mecosta County’s Green Township are facing recall, including the supervisor, clerk, treasurer and two trustees. Voters will also decide whether to create a planning commission. There has been conflict in that area over plans to build an electric vehicle battery plant by Chinese-owned Gotion.
Voters are electing members to the Portage City Council and Kalamazoo City Commission, as well as picking the Kalamazoo mayor. Voters in Grand Haven, Holland and South Haven will also select mayors.
You can find more information about the election by viewing your sample ballot online at the Michigan Secretary of State Voter Information Center.
—News 8’s Rick Albin and Carter Gent contributed to this report.