Primary Election is just days away

Michigan’s August primary election is just days away on Tuesday, August 2nd. Polls will be open from 7:00am-8:00pm. Voters will decide which candidates will represent their party in the general election in November. Voters will also decide whether to support several ballot proposals including six different countywide issues in Midland County.

There are two ways to vote. You can cast your ballot in person at your polling location or you can vote absentee. If you haven’t registered to vote and aren’t sure if you are eligible, the answer is, yes, you can. You just need to prove your identity and your residency when you show up at your polling location. You can also register prior to Election Day at your township or city clerk’s office.

Check your voter information card prior to Election Day.
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.

John Keefer, the Chief Deputy County Clerk for Midland County, 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.
John Keefer is the Chief Deputy Clerk of Midland County.
Keefer first started working for the county in October 2017. He’s been spearheading the operations for elections since 2018, under the oversight of Ann Manary, Midland County Clerk. Manary is seeking the Republican nomination for state representative in the 95th District. Keefer says, “People look for honesty and ethics in the people running elections.” Prior to joining Midland County, Keefer worked for ElectionSource, a vendor who supported seven different types of election machines used in seven states. Elections in Michigan are run using Dominion voting equipment that was custom built for Michigan. Keefer adds,” There are always problems but it’s how you handle them and how transparent you are…honesty is the best policy.”

As of late morning, Mon, July 25, there were 70,043 active registered voters in Midland County.  Of those voters, just over 48,000 cast ballots in the November 2020 election. In the August 2020 primary, that number totaled around 22,000. In the last midterm election held in August 2018, these voters cast 18,893 ballots. Keefer says, “I like to see 100 percent (cast ballots). I’m a firm believer that the higher and closer we are to that, the better off we are.” He anticipates seeing about 24,000 votes next week.

Keefer reports there are 19 voting precincts in the City of Midland and 24 in the rest 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

Keefer says a minimum of three persons are required to work in each precinct which includes a chairperson and one person each from the Democrat and Republican parties. Keefer’s goal is to have at least five persons working in each precinct which adds up to at least 215 working elections in the county, probably closer to 250.

Absentee ballots were cast by 40% of the voters in Midland County in the November 2020 General Election.
Absent voter (AV) ballots or absentee voting grew to 40 percent of the ballots cast in the November 2020 presidential election. Changes in election laws that eliminated certain requirements to vote absentee weren’t the only reasons for the increase. Keefer notes the impact of the COVID-19 virus, too, “The pandemic helped fuel that…I don’t see that number coming back down.” He acknowledges that he votes absentee, “I like the extra time to research my ballot.”

As of Monday, close to 8,846 absentee ballots had been sent out upon request while 3,636 had been returned. Those ballots must be submitted to the polling location by 8pm on Tue, August 2nd. If not, those ballots will not be counted. That also applies to ballots that are received in the mail following the deadline. Voters can still pick up absentee ballots in person now until 4pm, Monday, August 1st. Keefer says, “I strongly encourage the voter to take their ballot with them and then deliver it by hand.”
Polls will be open from 7:00am-8:00pm on Tuesday, August 2nd.
The countywide ballot proposals mentioned earlier seek the renewal of millages for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Services to Older Citizens, School Resource Officers (SRO), County Roads, Spongy Moth, and a bond proposal for the Educational Service Agency (ESA). There are also proposals from different school districts.

Unofficial results can be tracked by monitoring  www.electionreporting.com.  Election canvassers must certify the results within 14 days of the election but Keefer anticipates the canvas here will be completed within two days.

Keefer actually lives outside of Midland County in Tittabawassee Township, the Freeland area. He points out the different perspective that gives him, “I hold no stock in your elections beyond the accuracy and the integrity.”

 

Read more articles by Ron Beacom.

Ron Beacom has served as the managing editor of Catalyst Midland since October 2020. He's also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of "Second Act: Life at 50 Plus" for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media (PBS). He's the co-producer of two WDCQ documentaries about the Tittabawassee River Disaster in 2020, "Breached! and Breached!2-The Recovery."