As Midlanders make their requests for absentee ballots or prepare to go to their voting precinct for the Nov. 8 general election, local poll workers are preparing now to make sure your ballot is counted accurately.
John Keefer is the Chief Deputy Clerk of Midland County.
John Keefer, the Deputy Chief County Clerk, oversees the election cycle here and has since 2017 under the watchful eye of longtime County Clerk Ann Manary. He says Midland County is weathering the gathering storm better than most voting places in Michigan and across the nation.
With just over a month before the second Tuesday of November rolls around, Keefer says most polling places are fully staffed, despite a shortage of workers in most private areas and despite not posting openings for vacancies. He says it is the culture that has been established locally - coming together on an election day is somewhat of a social event.
He also says that many places have changed clerks since 2020, which is troubling, he notes. Five townships and the City of Midland have new clerks - Hope, Edenville, Larkin, Jerome and Mt. Haley this year. When he began in Midland County about 5 years ago, turnover among election workers was almost non-existent.
In smaller communities in general, the atmosphere was more amicable. “Democrats and Republicans, it didn’t matter, would sometimes sit down and eat a meal together (during election day). That was not a problem. That was good. They knew everyone,” he says.
He notes that if an election worker had a bowling partner or a relative had to get off the election committee, the one still on the precinct board “would go out and recruit another." He notes, "People trusted each other.”
Check your voter information card prior to Election Day.
Keefer reports there are 19 voting precincts in the City of Midland
and 24 overall in the remainder of the county. That doesn’t mean there are 43 separate polling locations. In some instances, voting for two or three precincts will be held in the same location. To find your polling place or see a sample ballot, visit: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/Voter/Index
Each, however, requires three workers - a chairperson and one person each from Democratic and Republican parties - to handle the election day duties of verifying identification, signatures and registration.
Midland County tries to get five workers in each precinct election day, which totals more than 200 on the payroll that day. Each will be trained as election inspectors. If interested, visit the link https://www.michigan.gov/sos/Resources/Initiatives/democracy-mvp
Keefer encourages people to become interested in being an election official, noting that the more one knows about the process, the more one knows what they are being told is true. “I don’t understand sometimes, that people would rather believe social media than their neighbors,” he says.
Despite it being a “mid-term” election, the second year after a presidential election, Keefer predicts the voter turnout will be around 50 percent because of the three non-partican ballot issues to be decided - Proposal 1 deals with term limits, financial disclosure for the executive and legislative branches of government; Proposal 2 deals with voting policies and Proposal 3 with abortion.
The partisan ballot begins with the governor's race and includes other executive races, and state and congressional races.
Keefer also said that the number of people voting absentee rose to 40% of total vote in the 2020 general election, and he doesn’t see that coming down. The Covid-19 pandemic and changes in election laws contributed to that total.
Absentee ballots were cast by 40% of the voters in Midland County in the November 2020 General Election.
To prove your identity, you need to present one of the following: driver’s license, state identification card, passport, birth certificate, tribal card, or a college student ID. To prove residency, you can also use the driver’s license or state ID or one of these items: current utility bill, rental agreement, a purchase agreement on a home, or a bank statement.
Keefer says “If you come in with everything that’s required, you’ll be fully registered.” That includes a valid signature. If you don’t present a picture I.D., that means you’ll be considered partially registered, which means your ballot is open to being challenged.”
Hours for the election are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Unofficial results can be tracked by monitoring www.electionreporting.com
. Election canvassers must certify the results within 14 days of the election.