Presidential primary, local charter initiative on ballot
Published 10:24 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Voters across the state will have the first major decision of what is sure to be a hotly contested presidential election year ahead of them Tuesday.
Michigan will become the latest state in the country to host its presidential primary election Tuesday, where residents will select which candidate they want to represent the Republican and Democratic parties in November’s presidential election. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Candidates for both major parties have been making the rounds across the entire state, looking to rally support before Tuesday’s election. On Sunday night, Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders held a nationally televised debate in Flint, where they sparred on a number of major issues, including the recent water lead crisis in the eastern Michigan city.
In Cass County, officials with the county clerk’s office are anticipating more voters than usual will be out Tuesday to cast their vote due in part to the intrigue generated by races on both sides of the ballot.
“With the nice [weather] forecast and all the press Michigan has been getting lately, we’re thinking we might get a strong turnout,” said County Clerk/Register Monica Kennedy.
The fact that both the Democrat and Republican races are hotly contested should also bring more county voters out to the polls, Kennedy said.
In 2008, the last time both nominations were contested, around 20.5 percent of all registered Cass County voters participated in the presidential primary. Conversely, in 2012, when only the Republican party nomination was up for grabs, voter turnout dropped slightly, to 19.8 percent.
In comparison to the general election in November and state primary election in August, voters will not be issued a single ballot with candidates from both parties listed on them, Kennedy said. As Michigan is considered a “closed” primary state, voters must mark on their application form at the polling location whether they want to receive a ballot with Republican or Democratic presidential candidates.
“You don’t have to be a registered member of the party to vote,” Kennedy said. “Selecting a particular ballot doesn’t register you with that party either.”
While the actual candidate one votes for will remain private, the state of Michigan does retain a record of who selected which party ballot, which is considered public information and can be shared with other citizens via the Freedom of Information Act, Kennedy said.
Voters who pick a particular ballot on Tuesday have the option of picking a different ballot in future primary elections, and are free to vote for nominees of both parties in August’s state primary, Kennedy said.
Kennedy also warned that several candidates appearing on both party ballots have dropped out of the race, since the ballots were printed in December when the pool of candidates was much larger. As election inspectors are forbidden by state law to advise voters on how to cast their ballots, citizens are urged to research which candidates are still in the race before heading to the polling booth Tuesday.
In addition, voters in living in the City of Dowagiac will have a city charter amendment proposal on both parties’ ballots. The proposal will ask voters to choose as to whether or not to amend the charter to turn the position of city clerk from an elected position to one appointed by the city manager, with approval by city council.
Voters who do not wish to vote for a presidential nominee but want to vote on the charter amendment have the option of selecting a non-partisan ballot Tuesday, which will contain just the ballot proposal, Kennedy said.
Residents can get a sample ballot or find out which polling location they need to vote at by either visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center website at https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/ or by contacting the Cass County Clerk/Register Office at (269) 445-4464.
“I’m hoping most people will want to make their voices heard, and to do that they need to go out and vote,” Kennedy said.
Candidates appearing on the ballots are:
Jeb Bush (Dropped Out)
Ben Carson (Dropped Out)
Chris Christie (Dropped Out)
Carly Fiorina (Dropped Out)
Lindsey Graham (Dropped Out)
Mike Huckabee (Dropped Out)
John R. Kasich
George Pataki (Dropped Out)
Rand Paul (Dropped Out)
Rick Santorum (Dropped Out)
Donald J. Trump
Roque Rocky De La Fuente (Formerly: Roque De La Fuente)
Martin J. O’Malley (Dropped Out)