Here’s what Michigan voters should know about their voting rights

MANISTEE — The Manistee County League of Women Voters partnered with the Manistee News Advocate to host a forum on Tuesday breaking down voting processes and voting rights in Michigan.

Participants learned about their rights when registering to vote in Michigan, including the following:

People living in Michigan are eligible to vote if, on election day, they are:

• A Michigan resident and a city/township resident for at least 30 days;

• A US citizen;

• Be at least 18 years old; and

• Not currently serving time in jail or jail.

People can register anytime up until 8 p.m. on Election Day using the following methods:

• In person at your local city/township with proof of residency;

They can register before election day using the following methods:

• Online at with a Michigan driver’s license/ID card;

• Request by mail; Where

• In person at a state agency providing public assistance/services to persons with disabilities.

People living in Michigan can show proof of residency with the following:

• A Michigan driver’s license or state ID card;

• A current electricity bill;

• A bank statement;

• A paycheck or government check; Where

• Other government document.

During the forum, Women’s League presenters Sandy Nelson and Pam Tompke noted that people who register to vote before Election Day have more options.

Both Nelson and Tompke are retired public school teachers and trained election officials. Nelson is a member of the Brown Township Planning Commission. Tompke was a township clerk in Manistee County for 27 years.

Nancy Behring, president of the Manistee County League of Women Voters, noted that the purpose of the presentation was to present “accurate information about registration and voting mechanisms, existing safeguards, current legislative initiatives and how to spot misinformation errors.”

She said the league’s source of funding for the forum prohibits them from advocating for any action.

“We are simply fulfilling our mission by presenting accurate and, to the best of our ability, up-to-date information about the voting process so that you know you know the facts,” Behring said.

Attendees also learned about voting rights with respect to voting before Election Day – called mail-in voting or early voting. Some of these rights include:

• All registered voters have the right to vote by post;

• They can request a postal vote via an application (signature required);

• Postal ballots are available 40 days before the election;

• Return absentee ballots by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day; and

• Military and foreign voters can vote by mail.

People who wish to vote in person before Election Day can do so up to 40 days before Election Day. People are advised to check with their local election clerk for policies on early voting.

Participants learned to distinguish between misinformation and disinformation. According to the presentation, misinformation is “sharing false information without the intent to harm.” Misinformation, on the other hand, is “creating and sharing false information with the intent to harm”.

In terms of countering misinformation and disinformation, the panelists recommended the following:

• Never quote the wrong information;

• Refer to the wrong information without repeating it; and

• Focus on providing correct information and include reliable sources.

Information on election bills was also presented with 139 new elections bills in the Michigan Legislature. One hundred bills came from the chamber and 39 from the senate.

House bills:

• Move the primary election from August to June;

• Train electoral challengers;

• Report deceased voters; and

• Require training on signature verification.

Senate bills:

• Amend voter registration laws;

• Change the way elections are administered;

• Increase the power of partisan challengers; and

• Change the way elections are certified.

A third possible change to Michigan’s election law comes from a petition titled Secure MI Vote.

Secure MI Vote is a petition campaign run by Republican voters, according to the Associated Press. The AP also said that if the petition were to be forwarded to the legislature and passed by the Michigan House and Senate, Governor Gretchen Whitmer could not veto it.

The petition would do the following:

• Mandate that people disclose partial social security numbers when registering to vote. Currently, this is not required under Michigan election law.

• Restrict opportunities for registered voters to verify their identity. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military ID, tribal ID, or government-issued student ID. university, college or community college; otherwise, the voter receives a provisional ballot on ID card only. It would also eliminate the use of the affidavit.

• Require that voters requesting an absentee ballot include their driver’s license or state identification number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number, on their application. This is currently not necessary.

• Prohibit election officials from sending or providing absence requests unless instructed to do so. Registrars can currently send requests by mail and have requests available on a website.

• Prohibit charitable contributions, including volunteer time, to help administer elections. Michigan law currently permits charitable contributions and volunteers for election administration.

• Allow the legislature to pass legislation without a popular vote and block a popular referendum after it is passed. He would do this by putting $3 million into the initiative. When money is attached to an initiative, no referendum is allowed.

About Geraldine Higgins

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