Voting 101: Twelve Questions You Need to Know to Vote
Voting seems more complicated than ever, despite every effort to make it simpler. Big surprise, eh? Luckily, Calhoun County has Teri Loew, Chief Deputy Clerk of Elections. She’s been at it for more than 28 years. Elections have certainly changed since she started in 1992, and one good thing that seems to be changing is the interest that people are taking in local elections. More people are ready to exercise their right to vote, and more people seem to be stepping up to run for local offices.
Here are 12 common questions about Election 2020, with the answers from Teri Loew, and Calhoun County Clerk-Register Kim Hinkley’s staff.
Q) Do I have to vote for every office? What if I’ve never heard of some of them?
A) You can skip the office and it will NOT invalidate your entire ballot.
Q) If the ballot lists several candidates for an office, and it says vote for three (3), do I have to vote for three?
A) No. You can vote for just one, none, or as many positions that are being filled and it won’t invalidate your ballot.
Q) I looked at my ballot online and in the Partisan Section, it always lists the Democrat Party candidates first, and then Republican Party candidates, followed by the other party candidates. Why is that?
A) Democrat Party candidates are listed first because Michigan’s Secretary of State is a Democrat.
Q) How are the non-partisan candidates arranged on the ballot?
A) They are listed alphabetically, but rotate throughout all 58 precincts in the County. So a candidate’s name might be on top in one precinct but drop to the bottom in the following precinct. A candidate Rotation Schedule is available on our gov/elections webpage.
Q) How many different sections are on the ballot and what are they?
A) There are three different sections on the ballot. They are:
- The Partisan Section, which contains Straight Party, Presidential, Congressional, Legislative, State Boards, County, and most Township offices.
- The Nonpartisan Section, which contains all Judicial offices, Community College, City Offices (if you reside in one of our 4 Cities in Calhoun County), Library Board Member offices (in Burlington and Tekonsha), Village offices (if you reside in one of our 5 villages), and School District offices.
- The Proposal Section, which includes 2 State Proposals, 1 County Proposal, and local proposals if you reside in Marshall City, Tekonsha Township, or Homer Community School District.
Q) I’m confused about the “Vote for not more than xx” section that is directly under each office title. What’s up with that?
A) Most are a vote for 1; however, some are a vote for not more than 2, 3, 4, or even 6. You can vote for 2 in the State Board offices, Community College, School District members, and City At-Large is more than 1. Township Trustees are usually 2 but Charter Township Trustees are a vote for 4.
Q) In the Partisan Section, I see all these different choices. What do they mean by “Straight Ticket”, “Split Ticket” and “Mixed Ticket.”
A) There are lots of choices, but remember that these only apply to the “Partisan Section” of your ballot.
- Straight Ticket – simply vote the party of your choice; nothing further needs to be done in the partisan section as this awards a vote to each candidate in the chosen party; continue to the Nonpartisan Section.
- Split Ticket – you may vote Straight Ticket AND vote for individual candidates of your choice from a different party, no party affiliation or cast a write-in vote. Continue to the Nonpartisan and Proposal Sections.
- Mixed Ticket – directly select individual candidates of your choice in each office.
Q) As if it wasn’t confusing enough, there are write-in candidates too. How does that work?
A) To vote for a write-in candidate, the candidate must file a Write-in Declaration of Intent with their filing official for the office they are seeking by the deadline; the voter must write the candidates name on the blank line in that particular office AND fill-in the oval to the right of the blank line.
Q) What if I screw it up?
A) If you make a mistake on your absentee ballot contact your local clerk to receive a new ballot; if you make a mistake on your Election Day ballot inform an election inspector who will spoil your original ballot and issue a new one for you to vote.
Q) Where can I find out more about the proposals on the ballot?
Q) Isn’t there a place on the internet where I can get a sneak preview of my actual ballot?
A). You can view a Sample of your Ballot at www.mi.gov/vote (note: nonpartisan candidates are shown in alphabetical order on sample ballots). Actual Sample ballots will be posted in your polling location on Election Day.
Q) Is there anything else I need to know?
A) One more thing. There are Offices on both the front and back of your ballot, so be certain to Turn Your Ballot Over!