Local clerks provide tips on how to avoid long lines on Election Day

By Dan Kasunic, City of Kentwood

Kelli VandenBerg, City of Wyoming

Karen Brower, City of East Grand Rapids

The Nov. 8 presidential election is just around the corner. Voter turnout across Michigan is expected to be well above average – meaning the polling locations will be very busy places for most of the day.


Absentee BallotCity clerks from East Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming are providing the following tips to make Election Day go smoothly:


Avoid peak times: If possible, you may want to vote from 9 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 4 p.m. when the lines are usually shorter.


Be informed: The ballot is very long and has two sides, with more than 90 candidates running for 22 offices as well as ballot proposals to consider in most precincts. You can download a sample ballot at www.michigan.gov/vote by looking up your voter registration and then viewing your ballot. This will allow you to look everything over ahead of time and do any research you would like. If you print the sample ballot to record your choices and bring it to the polls to record your votes onto an official ballot, be sure to keep it in your purse or pocket until you are in the privacy of the voting booth.


“We often find the bottleneck in the precinct is that all the booths are full and people have to wait until a booth is open for us to issue their ballot,” said East Grand Rapids City Clerk Karen Brower.  “Knowing ahead of time which offices are being decided and reading over the language on the proposals means less time in the voting booth and better moving lines for those waiting.”


Be prepared: Make sure you know where your polling location is so you don’t wait in line at the wrong precinct only to have to go somewhere else.  If you’re not sure if you’re registered, or to find your polling location, check www.michigan.gov/vote or call your local government office.


Poll workers will ask you to show photo ID or sign an affidavit stating you don’t have an ID. If you have your ID with you, having your ID out of your wallet and ready to present can help make things go quicker.
“Knowing where your polling location is before Election Day will make it a lot easier when you go to vote,” said City of Kentwood Clerk Dan Kasunic. “The website makes it easy to find your polling location. You would hate to show up at the wrong polling location and wait in line to only be told you need to go to another location.”


mail-in-ballot-17738476_108900_ver1-0_320_240Consider voting absentee: Absentee ballots are available now at your local municipality office. Ballots can be mailed until Saturday, Nov. 5. On Monday, Nov. 7, you can vote in person at your local clerk’s office until 4 p.m.  Michigan law allows you to vote absentee if:

  • You are 60 years of age or older
  • You expect to be absent from the community in which you are registered for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day
  • You are physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another
  • You cannot attend the polls because of the tenets of your religion
  • You have been appointed an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than the precinct where you reside
  • You cannot attend the polls because you are confined to jail awaiting arrangement or trial


“I would highly recommend voting absentee to anyone who qualifies,” said City of Wyoming Clerk Kelli VandenBerg. “Absentee voters will avoid potentially long lines and will also be able to spend as much time as needed to read through, understand and vote for each question on the ballot without feeling rushed.”


You can receive your ballot early and vote prior to Election Day. All absentee ballots are kept sealed in their envelopes at your clerk’s office until Election Day when they are opened and fed through official tabulators so that your votes are counted. You can download the absentee ballot application form at  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/AVApp_535884_7.pdf or stop by your local municipality.


If you have any questions about voting, registering to vote, polling locations or anything else, contact your local clerk’s office – Wyoming Clerk office is 616-530-7296 and Kentwood Clerk office is 616-554-0730 or visit www.michigan.gov/sos.