What to expect at the polls on Tuesday

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena Township Deputy Clerk Dana Malcomson, left, and township Clerk Michele Palevich organize absentee ballots that the township has received during the early voting period. They say a record number of absentee ballots have been turned in for the presidential primary on Tuesday.

ALPENA — On Tuesday, voters in Michigan will finally get their chance to vote on who they want to be the presidential nominees in November.

Alpena County and some Presque Isle County voters also will get to decide Alpena Public Schools’ bond proposal.

The election will be a closed primary, which will make voting a tad different than during the general election.

When people vote on Tuesday, they will have to indicate whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot, Alpena County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs said. Voters can also choose a non-affiliated ballot that only has local proposals listed.

Friedrichs said there are stark differences between a closed primary, open primary, and general election, and those differences can be confusing, but it is good to know each when going to cast your vote.

“A open primary has both parties on one ballot, but you can not cross over from a Democrat to Republicans or vice-versa,” she said. “You have to stay within your party designation. In a general election, you can cross over and vote for candidates from either party, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever else is on it.”

Early voting has been strong thus far, said Alpena Township Clerk Michele Palevich. Throughout the absentee voting period, the township has issued 1,041 ballots, and 844 had been returned as of Friday. That equates to about 80% of the people who received absentee ballots actually casting votes.

Surely, 80% of the electorate won’t cast votes on Tuesday, but, if the share of absentee ballots received is any indication, voter turnout could be larger than normal for a presidential primary.

In Alpena County in 2012, 14.2% of voters turned out. That roughly doubled in 2016, when turnout hit nearly 30%.

Palevich said the large number of absentee ballots could make it easier to vote on Tuesday.

“I think it makes it easier in the precincts,” she said. “Because a lot of people have already voted, lines should be shorter, and it should be easier for our workers. We have an absentee counting board that will be sequestered and count absentee ballots all day, so that will cut down on work for election workers, too.”

Alpena Township Deputy Clerk Dana Malcomson said the office has been busy for weeks, but she is pleased with the amount of voter participation to this point. She said the latest wrinkle in the early voting process is that some voters who voted early now want to squash their vote, since all but two of the Democratic candidates have dropped out of the race in recent weeks.

While 15 Democrats will appear on Michigan’s ballot, only two — Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders — are still seeking the nomination.

As of Friday afternoon, 33 people who voted absentee in the township have requested to have them squashed.

Malcomson said it is somewhat time-consuming to have the votes changed, but the office doesn’t mind, because it is what they are paid to do.

“That is what we are here for,” she said. “It is our job to make sure whatever vote they want to cast, is counted. I took an oath to do that and that is basically what our whole job is. We hold elections and make sure they are done fairly.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.


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