Group of people standing at the entrance of a polling station. Photo credits: Shutterstock
Group of people standing at the entrance of a polling station. Photo credits: Shutterstock

“This spring’s elections give citizens the opportunity to directly impact their communities, and with options to cast their ballot, it’s easy to make their voices heard,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

MICHIGAN—In less than a month, Michiganders in 64 counties will have the opportunity to vote for who they want to represent them locally, including on their school boards. While turnout for these races are typically low, more people are realizing just how influential these positions really are. 

Over the past year, parents, lawmakers, and school boards have made efforts to ban certain books they’ve deemed “obscene” or inappropriate from school library shelves and classroom curriculum at a record level. A report by PEN America cited more than 1,500 books were banned in 86 school districts in 26 states from July 2021 to March 2022.

READ MORE: 78% of Michiganders Believe It’s Un-American for Politicians to Ban Books in Schools. So Why Are Republicans Trying to Do It?

Of those books, 41% had main or secondary characters as people of color, 33% contained LBGTQ themes, and 22% addressed racism.

In other words, the future of education is essentially on the ballot for Michigan families on May 3.

“Our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, in every election,” Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s chief elections officer, said in a statement. “This spring’s elections give citizens the opportunity to directly impact their communities, and with options to cast their ballot, it’s easy to make their voices heard.”

In addition to local races, four House districts will also hold special elections to fill vacant seats. These House districts are the 15th district in Wayne County, 36th district in Macomb County, 43rd district in Oakland County, and the 74th in Kent County.

According to a press release from Secretary of State Benson’s office, the special election will fill partial terms for the vacated seats, meaning those elected in the May 3 special general election will serve until Dec. 31, 2022, and the winners of the November election will take office in January 2023.

Ahead of the upcoming May 3 elections, The ‘Gander has put together answers to some common election day questions.

Q. How do I know if I’m registered to vote?

You can check your registration status here.

Q. If I’m not registered to vote, is it too late to register?

No, it’s never too late in Michigan! You can register at any time up to 8 p.m. on Election Day at your city or township clerk’s office. However, if you’re registering another way, your voter registration application must be received or postmarked at least 15 days before the election. To learn about registering to vote in Michigan, watch this short video.

Q. How do I register to vote on Election Day?

You’ll need to bring your proof of eligibility and residency to your city or township clerk’s office. 

For the proof of eligibility in Michigan, you must be a U.S. citizen of at least 18 years of age and not serving a sentence in jail or prison at the time of voting. Additionally, you must be a Michigan resident at the time you register and a resident of your city or township for at least 30 days prior to casting a vote. 

You will also need to bring documents that have your name and current address to show your proof of residency. You can show a digital copy of documents. Acceptable documents include a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, current utility bill, your bank statement, a paycheck or government check and other government documents.

RELATED: The List of Voters in Michigan Is ‘More Accurate Than Ever,’ State Officials Say

Q. How do I know if there are elections in my region or county?

A complete list of jurisdictions holding elections, including four state House districts with a general election to fill partial terms for vacant seats, is available online.

Q. Why is it important for me to vote on May 3?

Proposed state budget cuts to K-12 education will significantly affect funding to local school districts, making this year’s school board elections especially important if you have kids. Future members of school boards will determine how best to reallocate what is likely to be reduced funding per student from the state.

This spring’s elections will open the door for many Michiganders to invest in their children’s education without increasing taxes by helping replace old school buildings and making improvements throughout the district.

And if you live in one of the districts holding special contests to fill the open Michigan House seats, you’ll want to cast your ballot to ensure your best interests are represented in Lansing.

Q. Where do I go to vote? Where is my polling place for voting on Election Day?

Your polling place is determined based on your home address. You can view your designated polling location here. Note: For your vote to count, you need to be at the correct polling place.

Q. What hours are the polls open? 

The polls are open Tuesday, May 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all elections. As long as you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to vote.

Q. Do I need to bring an ID with me?

You will be asked to show ID when you check in to vote. Acceptable forms of ID include a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, a driver’s license or personal ID card issued by another state, Federal or state government-issued photo ID, a U.S. passport, a military ID with photo, a student ID with photo from a high school or accredited institution of higher learning, or a tribal ID card with photo.

However, if you don’t have an ID, you can still vote. If this happens, expect a poll worker to ask you to sign a form before you vote that explains you didn’t have an ID. Your ballot will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Q. Do I qualify to vote absentee?

All eligible and registered voters in Michigan can now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason due to the passage of a 2018 statewide ballot proposal.

Elections officials recommend dropping off your ballot in person after April 19.

Q. Do I have to vote in person on Election Day or can I vote absentee?

If Election Day is less than two weeks away, the office for SOS recommends making your request in person at your local city or township clerk office to avoid possible postal delays. (That would be April 19, Michiganders!) You’ll be able to fill out and submit your ballot while there. Registered voters can also request an absentee ballot online through the absentee voter request form before 5 p.m. the Friday before the election, i.e. April 29. Other options include calling your city or township clerk and asking that an application be mailed to you, or downloading an application to return by mail or in person to your local clerk or township.

Q. I’m disabled and not sure I’ll be able to get to the polls. What are my options?

Voters with print disabilities may apply for an accessible electronic absent voter ballot that can be completed electronically, printed, and returned to the local clerk. To apply online for an accessible electronic absent voter ballot, click here

For in-person voting, voters with disabilities have access to a Voter Assist Terminal in all polling places. The Voter Assist Terminal helps the voter mark a ballot. It will mark the ballot with the voter’s choices but does not tally the votes. Once the ballot is marked, it is counted in exactly the same fashion as all other ballots.

Q. Did my ballot arrive? How can I track my ballot?

All registered voters can track their ballot by looking up their information in the voter information section of the SOS website.

Q. What if I have a question that isn’t answered here?

For all the information on upcoming elections, resources and voting forms, check out Michigan’s Office of SOS webpage here.

READ MORE: ‘It’s About Controlling Who Votes’: The Michigan GOP’s Plan to Overhaul Voting Laws