Primary Election Day 2020: Your Guide to Navigating Masks, Selfies, and Other Election Day Rules
It’s nearly Primary Election Day 2020 for Michigan voters. Soon voters across the state are set to choose nominees for each party to stand in November’s general election. Michigan laws help ensure elections are free and fair by guaranteeing the right to vote to all persons present and preventing electioneering near the polling place. From the trivial to the serious, here are some of the things candidates and voters should be considering from the time they line up to when they walk out the door proudly wearing their “I Voted” sticker.
Electioneering In and Around the Polling Place
Electioneering is prohibited within 100 feet of any polling place’s doorway. Candidates and campaigns are not allowed to solicit votes or campaign within that 100-foot perimeter; this includes posting yard signs and handing out palm cards or even stickers.
For voters, this means leave your campaign shirts, hats, and buttons at home. And because it is 2020 and masks are highly recommended (but not required) in the polling place, be sure to wear a nonpartisan mask. Your attire should be free of any election-related images or slogans.
Getting to the Polling Place
The first step is getting to the right polling place – you can find your polling place and view a sample ballot on the Michigan Election and Voter Information Webpage. Do not allow for anyone to pay for your transportation to the polling place. Under Michigan’s Voter Transportation Laws, it is a misdemeanor for a person to hire for a vehicle to transport voters to a polling place for the election, unless the voter is physically unable to walk to an election.
Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and any individual who is in line by 8 p.m. must be allowed to vote – so please get in line and stay in line.
Getting a Ballot
Only registered voters can obtain a ballot. Michigan now allows for same-day voter registration. A person can register to vote any time before polls close on Election Day. You can register for the primary by visiting your city or township clerk’s office. You will need a proof of residency and proof of identity. Voters cannot register at the polling place.
If you are denied a ballot at the polling place because you are not registered, on the voting rolls, or at the wrong polling place, you have two options. First, you may cast what is called a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot will be counted if you provide to your local clerk documentation, such as a driver’s license, that satisfies the identification requirement and the residency requirement within 6 days of Election Day. Second, you can go to your clerk’s office before 8 p.m. on Election Day and simply re-register and vote on the spot.
If you have already voted via absentee but would like to change your vote, you have until 4 p.m. on Monday, August 3rd to spoil your ballot. You must go in person to your clerk’s office to do so. Then you can either get a new absentee ballot from the clerk or vote in person the next day at your polling place.
Filling out the Ballot
Finally, you must fill out your ballot properly. The primary election is conducted on a partisan ballot. In the polling place, you will receive a ballot that lists Democrats running for office on one side, and Republicans on the other. You may only vote in a single party’s column. If you cross columns, you will void your entire partisan ballot. Be sure to check for nonpartisan elections towards the bottom or on the back of the ballot.
Michigan voters can now let their social media followers know they voted by posting a ballot selfie. Prior to 2019, it was illegal to video record or photograph, even just a selfie, anywhere in the polling place. However, voters may now take a photograph of their own ballot while they are in the voting booth. You may post the photo once you are more than 100 feet from the polling place. Any other selfies or photos remain disallowed.
Once you are outside that 100 foot buffer, post the “I Voted” photo and be proud you completed your civic duty!
If you have any questions related to this communication or other election law issues, please contact your Foster Swift attorney or a member of Foster Swift’s Election & Campaign Finance Law team:
- Anne M. Seurynck | 616.726.2240 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Laura J. Genovich | 616.726.2238 | email@example.com
- Cody A. Mott | 616.726.2239 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura's practice focuses on bankruptcy, municipal law, collections, and trial-level and appeals litigation. In the bankruptcy arena, she represents primarily Chapter 7 trustees. Laura has handled a wide range of trial and appellate matters for individual and business clients and has appeared before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan, as well as Michigan circuit and district courts across the state.View All Posts by Author ›
Cody is a member of the firm’s Business and Tax Practice Group and works in the Grand Rapids and Lansing offices. He works with clients on entity planning and formation, drafts commercial transaction documents, and provides counsel to clients on securities and tax issues. Cody is also a part of the firm’s Election and Campaign Finance Law Group. He provides advice to candidates, their committees, and public bodies on Michigan campaign finance and election law issues.View All Posts by Author ›
Anne has extensive experience in drafting and reviewing ordinances and policies, serving as general counsel, counseling clients on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act issues, and working with communities on millage and Michigan Campaign Finance Issues. Anne also has an expertise in library law.View All Posts by Author ›