How and where to vote in your local elections (and why you should)

By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor.

Did you know Michigan is hosting its local and state elections Nov. 7 of this year? Do you know what issues are up on the ballot this year for your county? Have you wanted to get more involved with deciding what happens in our country?

In 2016 the entire nation was engrossed in following the presidential race for who would sit in the White House, but states around the country have seen a decline in the participation – and even awareness of – local elections. It is estimated that on average 20 percent of registered voters cast their ballot in local elections, and it’s not uncommon for voter turnout in special elections for vacant state and local offices to be able to be counted on both hands.

The reason this is so alarming is that these elections are the ones that concern the offices and issues that have the most immediate and impactful implications for voters in their day-to-day lives. One could argue that local elections have more impact on what happens in our lives than elections on the federal level.

This doesn’t just mean people running for mayor and council positions, but also who’s going to be your local judge, sheriff, clerk, school board member and every other public officials. Local elections concern community issues that are brought directly to the voters through ballot measures and initiatives.

What it simply boils down to is that local elections are what affect you the most. The quality of life in your area is what is on the election ballot.

Now that you’re all fired up to do some local voting, you might have some questions on how to vote or where to vote. Graciously the Secretary of State was able to provide answers for us.


Q: Do I need my voter registration card in order to vote?

A: No. As long as you are in the correct polling location, your name will appear on the registration list supplied to your precinct.


Q: Do I need to show identification in order to vote?

A: Michigan does have a voter identification requirement at the polls. Voters are asked to present an acceptable photo ID, which includes a government-issued driver’s license or photo ID, a US passport, a military photo ID, a student photo ID from a high school or an institution of higher learning, or a tribal photo ID card. The ID does not need your address.


Q: When can I vote?

A: Election day in Michigan is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Q: Do I have to vote the entire ballot?

A: You are not required to vote the entire ballot. You may pick and choose the races or ballot questions for which you want to vote. Skipping sections does not invalidate your ballot.


Q: Does Michigan allow early voting?
A: No. However, qualified Michigan voters can cast absentee ballots before election day. A registered voter may obtain an absent voter ballot if they are 60 years of age or older, unable to vote without assistance, expecting to be out of town on election day, in jail awaiting arraignment or trial or are unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons. To request an absent voter ballot you must submit the absentee form to your city or township clerk, both of which can be found on


Q: Where can I register to vote? Where can I check my voter registration status? How do I determine where to go to vote? How can I learn more about the candidates and proposals in my area?

A: All of this information is incredibly easy to find on the Michigan Voter Information Center, which can be accessed at You can use the Michigan Voter Information Center to determine if you’re registered to vote, where to cast your ballot on election day, view a sample ballot of the upcoming election as well as much more.

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