In just a few months, citizens across the country will exercise one of their most basic Constitutional rights.
When they enter the voting booths on Tuesday, Nov. 8, they will be casting a ballot for the future leaders of the United States, using what Lyndon B. Johnson called “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”
The polls will be open that day from 7:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. Qualified voters still standing in line at 8:00 p.m. will be permitted to vote.
As of August 21, 2016, there are 7,362,575 registered voters in the state of Michigan. If you’re not registered yet but want to vote in the upcoming general election, you have until Oct. 11 to register.
Comply with Michigan Election Laws
In addition to being registered, you must comply with Michigan’s voter identification requirement to vote in the state of Michigan. You must show picture identification or, if you don’t have picture identification, sign an affidavit. Picture identification can consist of either a Michigan driver’s license or Michigan personal identification card. If you don’t have either document, you can show any of the following forms of picture identification as long as they are current:
- Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state
- Federal or state government-issued photo identification
- S. passport
- Military identification card with photo
- Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education
- Tribal identification card with photo
Voter’s Actions & Behaviors
Then, you should be aware that there are specific actions and behaviors that are punishable under Michigan election law and avoid partaking in them. To ensure that everyone is able to freely exercise their Constitutional right to vote, keep these in mind:
- You’re not allowed to solicit votes or engage in any type of campaigning within 100 feet of any doorway used by voters to enter a building in which a polling place is located. This includes posting, displaying, or distributing any material that makes reference to an election, candidate, or ballot question.
- You are not allowed to falsely impersonate another person or attempt to vote under the name of another person.
- If you’re not qualified or registered to vote, you should not attempt to vote.
- You can’t attempt to vote more than once at the same election.
- Don’t try to influence how another voter casts their ballot – whether this takes place at a polling place or another location where an absent voter is filling out their absent voter ballot.
- You can’t accept payment or pay another person for voting or refraining to vote.
- You can’t be in possession of another person’s absent voter ballot unless
- you’re a member of the voter’s immediate family and have been asked by the voter to return the ballot,
- you live with the voter and have been asked by the voter to return the ballot,
- you’re responsible for handling mail as part of your employment, or
- you’re an election official.
- You can’t use video cameras, cell phone cameras or video recording, cameras, or television or recording equipment in the polling place. (This means no selfies in the voting booth!) Broadcast stations and credentialed media are allowed to film for a short time from public areas.
- You can’t use cell phones once you’ve entered the voting station. You may use your cell phone while waiting in line in the polling place, but you must not be disruptive to the voting process.
During general elections (like the one coming up in November), some of these actions are also punishable under federal law, so it’s important to educate yourself on these laws so that you may continue to freely exercise your most basic Constitutional right for years to come.