What You Need to Know About Voting

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If you’re a new voter without a clue where to start, fear not! We’re here to help and inform, starting with the upcoming gubernatorial election to replace sitting Gov. Rick Snyder. 

On Nov. 6, registered voters in Michigan will cast their ballots for one of the gubernatorial candidates. In Michigan, reelection or replacement of the governor takes place every four years. Snyder is term-limited and can not run for reelection. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette are on the ballot for 2018.

Voting for a candidate directly affects your life and those you care about. Currently, Michigan is struggling with the conflict between quality and funding in public schools; infrastructure, and water, which have been huge subjects of debate in the gubernatorial election. These are all topics to research before choosing a candidate to support.

That said, let’s jump in. If you follow these steps, you’ll surely be prepared for the upcoming election:

1. Register to vote.

Though Michigan doesn’t allow voters to register online, the form is available to print out at vote.gov. Simply click on your state and follow the instructions. Residents of Michigan can download their registration forms and mail them in to the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections. 

Registration forms must be received by the state 30 days before the election, and the residence address used on the form must match the voter’s address on their driver’s license or personal identification card. This address also determines your voting precinct — the location where you place your vote.

2. Stay up to date with the candidates.

First, evaluate what is most important to you when choosing a candidate. 

Whitmer, born and raised in Michigan, is the former state Senate Democratic Leader and was an educator at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. 

She campaigns to fix Michigan’s roads, bridges and water systems; reform the education system; and propose affordable health care.

Schuette, endorsed by President Donald Trump, campaigns to roll back Michigan’s income tax rate, improve literacy at the K-12 level and end the opioid crisis through restricting prescriptions and targeting distributors.

Be sure to visit billschuette.com and gretchenwhitmer.com for more information.

3. Locate your voting precinct or apply for an absentee ballot.

You can visit michigan.gov/vote to apply for an absentee ballot and find your voting precinct. The site requires that you provide information about yourself or your driver’s license number to find your precinct. Once the application is filled out, mail or deliver it in person to your clerk. Instructions for this process are included in the absentee ballot. Ballots for the 2018 gubernatorial election must be sent in by Saturday, Nov. 3.

If you’re not a resident of Michigan and looking to request an absentee ballot, you’ll have to do a bit more research. Each state’s voting rules are different. You can start by finding your state or territorial election office and reading up on their absentee voting protocol. 

4. Prepare for election day.

Make sure your photo identification is valid before it’s time to head to the polls. Acceptable forms of identification include driver’s licenses, federal or state issued photo IDs, passports, military identification cards with photos, MSU ID cards or tribal identification cards with photos.

If you don’t have any of these forms of identification available before election day, find a replacement! MSU IDs can be replaced at the International Center near Wells Hall and state identification cards are distributed by the Secretary of State, 3315 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing, for $10.

5. Vote!

This is the simplest part that is sometimes neglected. Most likely, if you follow these steps, you’ll naturally develop a sense of political urgency and want to cast your vote. Your vote matters, so get out there and exercise your rights on Nov. 6!