Field Notes: Michigan

From a Division Street reader:

Ya know (I sound like Sarah Palin with her Alaskan accent) not all of us are politically savvy. I, for instance, did not start voting until I was in my early 30’s. So I am not only new to the voting experience (at least the big one that occurs every four years) but I am very new to the actual voting process . . . THE BALLOT! Here is what I mean.

Today I voted. Yes, I was very proud as it was my first time voting for a PRESIDENT. So my lovely husband printed a sample ballot for me to peruse and shared with me a few tips. The problem was I did not have him at my side when I was in line to vote. At the top of the ballot it has the options for your party preference . . . Democratic, Republican, Green, etc. So I check my party and slide down the card marking who I support.

Then I left the voting poll and suddenly went into a complete panic that I had screwed up my vote and the thought of this monumental election and that my vote would not count.

I wasn’t sweating, but I was beginning to get aggravated.The whole ‘straight ticket’ and ‘split ticket’ was not clear to me. So I thought by choosing my party at the top AND filling in the rest of the options that I was doomed and I screwed it up.

Four fast-dialing phone calls later (one to my husband who was still in bed, one to a friend in Indiana who also did not know about Split and Straight ticket voting, one to my dad – got his voicemail – and another to my place of work seeking the truth amongst five ladies in the office) as I desperately searched for the correct answer, I stopped in at our Bulk Mail Post Office and Richard, our loyal state-funded employee, gave me the right answer and instantly I was re-assured that, yes, my little ol’ ‘split ticket’ vote counted.

So if you are new to voting or just never knew the difference, I will enlighten you to my discoveries this morning. If you were to only choose your party at the top and fill nothing more out, then you would voted “straight ticket.” If you voted for your party AND voted for a President and other options, then you voted “split ticket.”

And, you don’t have to claim a party at all at the top and still vote and it will count. So there you have it – a stressful experience from an unexperienced voter, and I know I’m not alone.

If you are “Split” or “Straight”, good luck and happy voting!

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One response to “Field Notes: Michigan

  1. When I got to the head of the line yesterday morning, I was told by an election inspector (poll worker) that our tabulators would reject a split ticket. I knew better, and said so — I even pointed out that the ballots themselves said so, at the top. But I don’t think they stopped telling people that right away. Eventually I “risked” a loss of my time and the need to re-vote by testing out the split ticket; I hadn’t intended to vote at the top, but after being misinformed I had to do something to try to get a correction going. And — surprise! — I was right.

    And I hope that changed what they told later voters. But I wonder what effect that might have had on the outcome. A lot of people were in a hurry, which may have meant more straight-ticket voting than usual — that is one of its big advantages, after all. And I wonder if I, a third-party candidate (the only local candidate for my party in myarea), lost some split-ticket votes of people who would have made me an exception to their rule if they hadn’t been told that easier/faster option wasn’t available to them.

    Mind you, I don’t think that turned the election by itself. I wish it had been that close. But I also wish I knew how that rumor got started. . . .

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