Jan 10, 2008

FAQ for the Michigan 2008 Presidential Primary

The starts and stops of Michigan’s presidential primary, which saw politicians play with the House Bill that moved it up and made it a primary instead of a caucus, saw some of the leading Democratic candidates withdraw their names and lawsuits filed to stop the election. This may have lead to many Michigan voters being confused about Tuesday’s primary. These Frequently Asked Questions will address any concerns.

Where do I vote?
Registered voters will vote at the same polling place they vote for all normal elections. The Michigan Secretary of State has an online Voter Information Center where you can find your polling place complete with a map by simply typing in your name and where you live.

Who is administering this election?
This is a state-run primary election and will be administered by county, township and city clerks.

What is the difference between a presidential caucus and a presidential primary election?A primary election is run under state law and paid for by the state, while a caucus is a nomination process paid for by a political party and run under its rules.

What are the voting hours?The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, but state law says all people in line when the polls close will be allowed to vote.

I want to vote on Jan. 15, but I have not registered to vote yet, so can I still register to vote or register at the polls?No. Michigan election law requires all voters register at least 30 days before the election. You would have had to register by Dec. 17, 2007 to vote in this election.

How do I vote absentee?
If you are a registered voted and expect to be out of town on election day, are age 60 or over, are disabled, unable to vote without assistance at the polls, are in jail awaiting arraignment or trial, unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons or you are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence, you may vote by absentee ballot under Michigan election law. People meeting that criteria have until 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, to request a ballot at their local city or township clerk's office, and they must be returned to or received no later than 8 p.m. on election night at the local clerk's office.

What do I need to bring to the polls?
You must have in your possession and show a Michigan driver’s license, a Michigan ID card or any other current picture ID to vote. If you do not have those, you will be allowed to vote by signing an affidavit saying you are not in possession of picture identification before you are issued a ballot.

Is this a closed or open primary?
No party registration is required to vote. However, you must declare a party affiliation to vote, and you will be given either a Democratic or Republican ballot. You can only vote in the Republican primary or the Democrat primary – not both. As in all elections, your vote is kept private, but which party you choose will be recorded.

Who are the Democrats appearing on the ballot?
The Democratic ballot will have five choices: Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Uncommitted. However, Dodd has already dropped out of the race.

Who are the Republicans on the ballot?
The Republican ballot will include: Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Tom Tancredo and Uncommitted. However, Brownback and Tancredo have dropped out of the race.

What is “Uncommitted”?
A vote for “Uncommitted” is a vote to send delegates to the respective national convention who are not committed or pledged to any candidate. Those delegates can vote for any candidate they choose at the convention.

Hey, where are John Edwards and Barack Obama?
The Democratic National Committee threatened to not seat Michigan delegates because they violated party rules by holding an early primary, and John Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson withdrew their names in protest of Michigan’s decision to go early. Biden and Richardson have both since dropped out of the race.

Can I just write them in?
No. No one has filed as a write-in in from either party, and any write-in votes will spoil the ballot and be disregarded. The Michigan Democratic Party is urging Edwards and Obama supporters to vote "Uncommitted," and those delegates will be sent to the Democratic National Convention as undecided and can vote for any candidate.

How will Republicans select a presidential candidate?
Republicans will nominate their candidates for President and Vice President and adopt a platform at the 2008 Republican National Convention. The convention will be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 1-4. Michigan Republicans will send 60 delegates to the convention based on the results of the voting in Michigan’s presidential primary. The bulk of them, 45, will include three from each of Michigan’s 15 congressional districts, plus 10 at large, two bonus and three party leaders.

How will Democrats select a presidential candidate?
Democrats will nominate their candidates for President and Vice President and adopt a platform at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The convention will be held in Denver, Colo., August 25-28. Michigan Democrats will be represented by a delegation of 156 delegates, 21 alternates, 18 convention committee members and four pages.

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