How Things Work: The Primary Election.

July 18, 2022

How Things Work: The Primary Election.

A column by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, there will be a primary election in the State of Michigan. The main purpose of this election is for the two major political parties — the Republican Party and the Democrat Party — to nominate candidates to run in the General Election, which will be held nationally on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Locally, some districts may have other ballot proposals to vote on.

First and foremost, in the primary election you cannot split your ballot between political parties, as this will spoil your ballot. You must either vote all Republican or vote all Democrat in the “party section” of the ballot, which means that you must stay in one column when voting your ballot. As stated above, the main purpose of this election is for the political parties to nominate their candidates for office.

Did you know that the Secretary of State’s party affiliation determines the order on the ballot? Because the SOS is from the Democratic Party, the Democrats will be in the first column for the primary election and the republicans in the second column.  In the November General, as a voter, you will notice that all Democratic candidates will be first in their respective contests on the ballot.

Remember in any November General Election, you may cross over between political parties.  This is allowed and does not spoil the ballot.  Please note:  Read the directions under each contest heading to make sure of the number of candidates that you are allowed to vote for.

Despite what you may hear in national media, you will not automatically be mailed a ballot in the state of Michigan. Voters do have the option to vote absentee without giving a reason. However, you must still fill out an application to vote absentee prior to every election unless your local city or township clerk maintains an absentee ballot list. It is recommended that you check with your local city or township clerk to find out their process, as this is not required under law. Please note, you cannot obtain an absentee ballot from the county clerk’s office. Upon your consent, your local city or township clerk will automatically send you an application prior to each election. Once you fill out the application you must return it to your clerk and then you will receive your ballot either in person or by mail. You have until 8 p.m. on election day to return your ballot. Absentee ballots must be returned to the local city or township clerk, they may not be given to the election inspectors working within the polling location.

Something else that is rather new are ballot drop boxes, which are typically located outside of the clerk’s office. Check with your local city or township clerk to confirm that they have a ballot drop box for voters to use as not every jurisdiction in Mason County has a ballot drop box. It is important to note that you can only place your ballot in the ballot drop box in your voting jurisdiction. You cannot go into another town or township and drop off your ballot. It doesn’t work like the post office. During the last General Election this caused a lot of issues and confusion. You can, however, place your absentee ballot in the mail and mail it back or you can hand deliver it back to the clerk.

So, how do you know who your clerk is? First, ask yourself where do you live? For example, I live in the City of Scottville, therefore my clerk is located in City Hall. My brothers live in Amber Township; therefore, their clerk is located in Amber Township. Remember, if you live in the “country” you actually don’t live in that particular town or city that is included in the zip code of the mailing address. Your address may be a Ludington address but if you live in Hamlin Township, then that is where your township clerk is located. A voter can also know which township they live in by where they pay their property taxes.

Conveniently, the Mason County Clerk’s office has a link on the county’s website that lists all the clerks in Mason County. You may find that information here.

As an alternative, you may also request your absentee ballot from the Michigan Secretary of State. You can find out more here, but it is recommend you contact your local city or township clerk.

If you would prefer to vote in person, you may vote on election day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. at your local polling place. If you are unsure of that polling place, contact your clerk.

Also, conveniently, the Michigan Secretary of State has a webpage that will show you a sample ballot specifically for your location. You can find that here.

Some communities have specific ballot proposals, in addition to the political party nominations. You can find that information out by clicking the link in the previous link. MCP will be posting more information on those topics later this week.

If you would like to learn more about primary candidates, you may want to consider attending the primary election candidate forum, which will be held on Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at Waterfront Park. The forum is sponsored by the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, Mason County Press, and Ludington Daily News.

The forum will feature candidates who are in county and state contested races. Audience members are asked to bring their own chairs and they also may submit questions.

Waterfront Park is located at 391 S. William St. in Ludington.

Special thank you to Mason County Clerk Cheryl Kelly for consulting on this column. 

How Things Work is a regular column/opinion editorial by Rob Alway, editor-in-chief and owner of Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. Rob has been a professional journalist for over 36 years. 

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