Michiganders can go confidently to the polls with these tips and resources in their back pockets.
MICHIGAN—Michiganders are fired up to vote, and for many, that means donning a mask and heading out to their local polling location to vote safely and confidently.
That includes Royal Oak business owner and engaged Dearborn resident 63-year-old Michael Bsharah.
“I’ve made the firm decision to go to the polls in person with a mask and to defy anyone who would choose to harass me,” he told The ‘Gander.
He’s referencing the concern of voter intimidation on Nov. 3, meaning any attempt to sway his choice or create a hostile environment for him to vote in.
It could be as subtle as someone following President Donald Trump’s advice to go to the polls and “watch very carefully,” or as overt as questioning a person’s right to vote.
Voter intimidation is against the law in Michigan, in any form.
Bsharah says Michigan’s Black, brown, and Indigenous communities are most vulnerable to voter intimidation, as their voting rights are later additions to the Constitution.
“I have become more alarmed and concerned about these [voters’ rights] issues over the last four years, and then more broadly over the last ten years as the Republican Party veered further to the right,” Bsharah said. “Election manipulation has been taking place.”
Below we’ve rounded up information and the local resources that voters across Michigan may need to troubleshoot such problems at the polls.
Know Your Registration Status
Before arriving at the polls, it’s a good idea to know your voter registration status in Michigan. Click here to check your voter registration status in Michigan.
Voters who arrive at the polls who are not registered are able to register and cast their ballot on the same day. While registered voters are not required to show photo ID, voters who are registering on the day they vote must show both proof of eligibility and residency.
Remember: You’re Likely Legally Able to Still Cast a Ballot
If you are told that you are ineligible to vote, you’re still able to cast a provisional ballot. Even if you have been purged from rolls, you’re able to cast a provisional ballot in Michigan.
Provisional ballots ensure that voters are not excluded from the electoral process due to administrative errors. If there are issues with your identification, residency, or other issues, voters may still cast a provisional ballot that can be properly counted once the error is cleared.
Take a Friend
Whether you’re worried about voter intimidation or not, the best way to ensure many Michigan voters participate in the election is to vote with a friend. Consider offering a ride to someone who you know doesn’t have transportation, or ask for a ride if you need one.
Any Michigan voter who cannot see well or has trouble reading, writing, or understanding English can bring someone with them to the polls.
Speak Up for Yourself
As a Michigan voter, you are the best and most powerful advocate for your rights.
Many Michigan election inspectors are new to the job, replacing many veteran poll workers and volunteers who are choosing to stay home to avoid potential coronavirus exposure. Remember, they simply may not know everything about your particular polling location.
Patience will go a long way on Election Day during the pandemic.
If you are told that you cannot vote on Election Day and are not told where you can cast your vote, you may insist on receiving and casting a provisional ballot.
Get It Translated
Another example of voter intimidation is spreading false information about voter requirements—like the ability to speak or write English—according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
In fact, as the US Election Assistance Commission explains, voters can request materials in their native language, as protected by the Language Minority Provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Organizations across Michigan support human rights, including voters’ rights. Voters who find themselves unable to vote or cast a provisional ballot can contact local advocacy groups for help.
It is best to contact someone on Election Day, before 8 p.m.
Michigan Bureau of Elections
National Election Protection Hotline (English)
National Election Protection Hotline (Spanish)
US Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline
Visit Michigan.gov/vote for additional information.