Image via Shutterstock.
Image via Shutterstock.

From the presidential race to local proposals, here’s your hub for how Michigan votes on the most heated seats and statewide races this November. 

MICHIGAN—Eyes are on Michigan as results come in from a historic 2020 election. 

While Michigan shattered records requesting absentee ballots to vote early, local clerks will spend the next two weeks counting ballots that could have been delayed by the US Postal Service. 

We’re following each of Michigan’s top races and preparing to give you the full picture when results are officially called. 

Here are the ballot items we’re watching across the state: 

Trump v. Biden 

President Donald Trump has had a tumultuous term of office, recently culminating in a global health crisis. Trump himself contracted the coronavirus in early October but has still engaged in public events and rarely worn personal protective equipment around crowds. 

He’s challenged by former Vice-President Joe Biden who has, by contrast, engaged in rigorous coronavirus safety measures and touts a well-developed plan. Biden also helped chart America’s course out of the 2008 recession, which he argues will be valuable in a post-pandemic America. 

While Biden has generally led in the polls, Michigan is expected to be a hard win for either candidate to secure. Trump won by an incredibly narrow margin in 2016, and Michigan is a must-win state for both candidates in 2020. 

US Senate Race 

Freshman Sen. Gary Peters has done a lot in the last six years, being responsible for more laws signed than any other senator in the same time period. He’s lately been focused on fighting for the Postal Service and against the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Peters is running against John James, who previously attempted unsuccessfully to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenaw. James famously said he was “2,000%” behind President Trump and has called Trump the only thing preventing anarchy in footage leaked to The ‘Gander

Like the presidential race, the senate race is expected to be close, with polls slightly trending in Peters’ favor but James regularly pulling in heftier campaign contributions.

Proposal 1 

The first proposal on the back of the Michigan ballot is about how park funding works across the state. 

Presently, the trust fund for natural resources in the state is capped, and parks can’t seek grants to develop new structural changes to their parks, limiting the resources that can be drawn on for those projects. Moreover, the resources available for those structural improvements from the state park funds aren’t guaranteed to be used for that purpose, meaning what resources parks do have available they need to fight for. 

Voting Yes on Proposal 1 changes all that. The proposal is a constitutional amendment in Michigan that would send the first $800 million in money raised by the sale of oil and gas on state-owned land to the state parks fund and everything after that would go into the trust fund for natural resources. A quarter of that fund would be assigned to conservation efforts and a quarter of it would be assigned to public recreation.

Proposal 2 

The other proposal this November, also a constitutional amendment, is fairly straightforward. As it stands, things like electronic data, text messages and emails exist in a sort of legal limbo. When the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment was drafted, a person’s data was in papers and books, physical objects that law enforcement would need to enter a premises to obtain. That’s changed dramatically in the last 250 years. 

Right now, law enforcement can read your emails without a warrant. In Katz v. US, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment’s protections against warrantless searches extended to anywhere that Americans have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” which remains undefined for a digital world. 

Voting Yes on Proposal 2 gives Michiganders that expectation of privacy. It explicitly adds electronic data and communications to Michigan’s definition of things protected from unreasonable searches under the federal Fourth Amendment. 

Michigan Supreme Court 

There are two seats open in the nonpartisan section of the ballot for Michigan’s Supreme Court. Incumbent Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack is up for re-election with a commanding lead in polling by Lake Effect.

The other candidates for the position are Susan L. Hubbard, Mary Kelly, Kerry Lee Morgan, Katie Nepton, Brock Swartzle, and Elizabeth Welch

While all Supreme Court candidates are nonpartisan, political parts often make endorsements of candidates. The Michigan Democratic Party has endorsed McCormack and Welch, while the Michigan Republican Party has endorsed Kelly and Swartzel.

3rd Congressional District

After leaving the Republican Party in protest of President Trump’s leadership, Rep. Justin Amash announced he would not be seeking another term in Congress. Amash was facing a primary challenge from more Trump-aligned conservatives. 

Peter Meijer, of the grocery store chain, won the Republican primary to replace Amash and is up against  Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney from Grand Rapids. 

The 3rd leans conservative according to the Cook Political Report, but FiveThirtyEight’s analysis lists it as impressionable, likely to sway with national sentiments and trends. 

6th Congressional District

Republican Rep. Fred Upton has been in increasingly difficult races in recent years as the demographics of the Kalamazoo area have changed. His campaign has also been called the “most homophobic” in the nation as he fights his gay challenger. 

Democrat Jon Hoadley is running to unseat Upton. He served in the state House of Representatives and established roots in Kalamazoo following the OneKalamazoo campaign which successfully extended LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections to the city. 

According to the Cook Political Report, Upton still has a slight advantage with a district that leans Republican, but the polling is close, reports FiveThirtyEight.

8th Congressional District

Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin successfully flipped her district in 2018 with the defeat of former Rep. Mike Bishop. Slotkin, a former CIA agent and former assistant secretary of defense is seeking to defend her seat.

She’s up against former assistant district attorney and former Lansing-area news anchor Paul Junge who will attempt to flip back the 8th, which FiveThirtyEight found is likely to follow national sentiments with regard to who to vote for. 

9th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Andy Levin, son of former Rep. Sander Levin and nephew of former Sen. Carl Levin, will be defending his seat against one of two Republicans in November. 

Levin is up against self-styled “constitutional patriotCharles Langworthy, who recommended voters read the constitution and the Bible to better understand his approach to government. Langworthy’s policy positions largely align with President Trump’s. 

Lagworthy will have an uphill battle against Levin in the fall, as the Cook Political Report lists the district as leaning Democratic. 

11th Congressional District

When then-incumbent Republican Rep. David Trott did not seek re-election, Democrat Haley Stevens managed to defeat Republican Lena Epstien to flip the district. Prior to running for office, Stevens worked at the Department of the Treasury helping the auto industry recover from the recession of 2008.

Stevens is running against Republican Eric Esshaki. A former nurse-turned-lawyer, Esshaki is deeply religious and feels that Congress is not committed enough to core conservative values. 

Stevens will have to work to maintain her seat. Cook reports the 11th leans Republican and FiveThirtyEight shows it is less likely to follow national political sentiments. 

12th Congressional District

Debbie Dingell has been the Democrat representing the 12th since her late husband, John Dingell, retired in 2014. Dingell previously served on the Board of Governors for Wayne State University. 

Trying to unseat Dingell is Jeff Jones, who has attempted to unseat her in both 2016 and 2018 as well. Jones’ attempts to defeat Dingell might have something to do with the strong Democratic leaning of the district, as reported by Cook.

13th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, who has gone on to be a member of “the Squad”, four progressive women of color elected for the first time in 2018 and acting as outspoken critics of President Trump and Republicans. 

She’s facing off against David Dudenhoefer, chair of the local Republican party. He’s admittedly a long shot, as he’s running in one of Cook’s most Democratic districts in America.