RUTH JOHNSON: Every vote counts

LANSING - Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is encouraging all eligible voters to cast their ballots in the statewide election May 5.

"Voting provides an opportunity to make one’s voice heard," said Johnson. "Because voting is an essential part of our democracy, I encourage all eligible residents to take a few minutes to cast a ballot on Election Day."

The polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All communities will have an election, even if the only item on the ballot is State Proposal 15-1. Official ballot language can be found at www.michigan.gov/elections.

To view your sample ballot, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at michigan.gov/vote. Johnson said the website is a great online resource for voters. They can find their polling location or track their absentee ballots to confirm their absentee ballot has been received by their local clerk.

There is still time for voters to obtain an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:

  1. Age 60 or older.
  2. Physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.
  3. Expecting to be out of town for the entire time the polls are open on election day.
  4. In jail awaiting arraignment or trial.
  5. Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons.
  6. Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. on Monday, May 4. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday must fill out the ballot in the clerk's office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.

Residents who registered to vote by mail or via a voter registration drive and have never voted in Michigan are not eligible to vote by absentee ballot in their first election. They must vote in person at their precinct. This restriction does not apply to voters who are overseas, disabled or 60 or older.

Voters must fulfill identification requirements under Michigan law. They will be asked to present valid photo ID at the polls, such as a Michigan driver's license or identification card.

Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them may still vote. They will sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day. Voters obtaining absentee ballots in person must meet the same photo identification requirement as voters who cast ballots in the polling place.

Under Michigan law, voters will also be presented with an application at the polls. By signing the application, the voter certifies that he or she is a U.S. citizen.

A specially equipped voting station called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal is also available at each polling location for use by voters with disabilities.