Office of County Clerk/Register of Deeds
Frequently Asked Questions About Elections
Effective January 1, 2021, due to COVID-19 the Kalamazoo County Clerk / Register of Deeds office is closed to the public upon further notice. Limited in-person services are available by appointment only; all other services can be completed online or by mail.
This information was updated April 6, 2020
Who may register to vote?
- A U.S. Citizen
- At least 18 years old by election day
- A resident of Michigan and the city or township where you are applying to vote
When may I register to vote?
You may register to vote at any time. Until the 15th day before the election, your activity of registering to vote will be sufficient for you to appear on the voter list for the election. Beginning on the 14th day and continuing to Election Day, new voters will need to go to the local clerk’s office to show ID that confirms identity and residency in order to vote on Election Day. Secretary of State Branch Offices will supply an instructional sheet to anyone who registers to vote with them during the last 14 days.
Do I have to register for each election?
NO. Registration is permanent as long as you continue to live in the city or township where you are registered. You may register by appearing in person at:
- Any Secretary of State branch office in Michigan
- Your city or township clerk's office
- Your county clerk's office
- Any Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office (if a client).
- Michigan Works and military recruitment offices (for those enlisting in the service).
Or, you may now register online at www.michigan.gov/vote. You only need to have a Michigan Driver’s License or State ID.
If you have not registered to vote, you may visit your city or township clerk on Election Day to register and vote.
May I register to vote by mail?
YES. There is a voter registration form online at www.michigan.gov/vote. These forms should be mailed to your local city or township clerk.
What should I do if I have moved within my city or township of residence or changed my name since the last election?
You should immediately notify the city or township clerk where you are registered. You may also change your address on Election Day. If you moved within your city or township, you may go to your old precinct to vote, then change your address there. If you moved to a different city or township, go to the new city or township clerk’
What should I do if I move to another city or township within the state?
You must re-register with the clerk in your new city or township of residence, or at any Secretary of State branch office, or any of the other methods listed above.
Can I vote by absentee ballot?
If you are a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot for any reason by contacting your city or township clerk.
How do I receive the ballot?
You can obtain an absent voter ballot by writing to the clerk of the city or township in which you are registered to vote. Ballots cannot be supplied through telephone requests. Your written request must include:
- Your name
- The date of the election
- The address where you are registered to vote.
- The reason why you are requesting an absent voter ballot.
- The address where you wish to receive your ballot. (This must be your registration address, an address outside of your jurisdiction of registration, a hospital, or some other type of residential institution.)
- Your signature and the date of your request.
Blank absent voter ballot applications can be obtained through your city or township clerk, or through the Michigan Voter Information Center online. Members of the armed forces and their spouses and dependents, members of the Merchant Marine and their spouses and dependents, and U.S. citizens temporarily living or traveling outside the territorial limits of the United State may use the Federal Post Card Application form to obtain an absent voter ballot. Requests for an absent voter ballot may also be e-mailed to the appropriate election official (signatures are required to receive a ballot).
Military and overseas citizens may receive a ballot by e-mail if requested. However, the ballot must be printed and returned to the Clerk by mail in order for it to be counted. These ballots (called MOVE ballots) are available 45 days prior to any election.The status of absentee ballots can be checked at www.michigan.gov/vote.
When must absent voter ballots be returned to the clerk?
Absent voter ballots must be received by the clerk no later than the close of the polls (8:00 p.m.) on Election Day. There are instructions included with the ballot regarding who is eligible to return a ballot on behalf of a voter.
Voters are strongly encouraged to place absentee ballots in the mail no later than October 27 to ensure delivery to the local clerk. Each city or township hall has either a drop box or mail slot for ballots. Check your jurisdiction’s webpage for open hours for personal delivery.
What is the voting procedure?
The procedure involves four steps:
- Sign an Application to Vote
- An election inspector will check your name against the list of registered voters on the Electronic Poll Book for the precinct.
- Vote the ballot issued to you
- Tabulate the ballot
Every county in the State of Michigan uses the Optical Scan method of voting. Kalamazoo County uses a system from Election Systems & Software (ES & S). The optical scan method involves a paper ballot that is electronically tabulated in the precinct. To vote, small ovals are darkened near the candidate's name.
Are there regular voting dates?
Yes. In Michigan, there are 3 possible dates that elections can be held each year:
- First Tuesday after the first Monday in May
- First Tuesday after the first Monday in August
- First Tuesday after the first Monday in November
There are no regularly scheduled elections on the May date. This date is used for special elections if needed.
The August date in the even year is the State Primary Election.
There is no regularly scheduled election on the August date in the odd year. This date could be used for a special election if needed.
The November date in the even year is the State General Election.
The November date in the odd year is the City General Election in the cities of Kalamazoo, Parchment and Portage. Other communities could use this date for a special election if needed.
What are the computers used in the precincts?
For several years, all cities and townships in Kalamazoo County and everywhere in the State, use the e-Poll Book. These laptop computers contain the list of voters for the particular precinct and record that the voter voted. Initial funding for these computers came from the "Help America Vote Act."
Where do I vote?
If you do not know the location of your polling place, check with your city or township clerk. You can also go to the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.michigan.gov/vote
How can I find out if I am registered to vote?
To verify if you are registered to vote, contact your city or township clerk. You may also use the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.michigan.gov/vote.
When are the polls open?
In Michigan, the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
What should I do if my name does not appear on the list of registered voters at my polling place?
Answer any questions the election inspectors may ask in attempting to confirm your registration. They will also be contacting your city or township clerk for assistance. If you are just in the wrong precinct, you will directed to go to the correct location. If you are not registered to vote, you will be directed to see the city or township clerk who can register you on Election Day.
May I receive assistance when voting?
Any elector may request voting assistance from the election inspectors without stating a reason, in which case two inspectors (one from each major political party), will give assistance. If you need assistance because you are blind, disabled or unable to read or write, you may ask anyone (except your employer, an agent of your employer or an officer or agent of your union) to give assistance.
May I take campaign literature into the polling place?
Yes, as long as the articles are for your personal use and you not distribute or display them to other voters in the polling place. In addition, you may not leave any materials in the polling place.
Election Day Procedures
Is there a difference between a primary and a general election?
YES! A primary election is held by the political parties to select their nominees for the offices to be elected at the upcoming general election. In a primary, Republicans run against Republicans and Democrats run against other Democrats. And, of course, if other parties qualify to appear on the primary ballot, their candidates run against each other as well. In a primary, you may vote on only one party's candidates. You cannot split your ballot between the various political parties, or your vote will not be counted.
A general election is between party nominees and any candidates without political party affiliation. The general election determines which candidates will occupy the office that is up for election. Statewide ballot proposals also appear on the general election ballot.
Is campaigning allowed on Election Day?
YES! As long as it is done at least 100 feet from any door in the polling place.