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Calhoun County clerk helps voters understand their ballot

Posted at 8:58 PM, Oct 22, 2020

CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. — Most Americans seem to have a pretty good idea of who they’re voting for in the race for the White House.

But there are several other key races in townships and cities that affect local voters in Michigan, which is why it’s important to understand your ballot.

It’s a sheet of paper that will help determine the future of Michigan. From city clerks and county treasurers to local school bonds and water issues, the ovals you fill-in will directly affect you and your family for years.

That’s why clerks all around the state are making sure voters pay careful attention to what they’re filling in.

“It’s very important to make sure that you are informed of your local races those are the closest to you and have the biggest impact on your local daily lives,” said Calhoun County Clerk Kimberly Hinkley.

She spoke with FOX 17 Thursday evening during a Facebook live.

There are more than 103,000 registered voters in her county with roughly a third choosing to vote absentee in this year’s election.

“So we’ve have over 31,000 absentee ballots sent out as of yesterday and we’ve received almost 21,000 of those absentee ballots as of yesterday as well.”

Clerks are now processing twice, if not three times, the amount of absentee ballots as before.

“But then of course this year with heightened awareness and COVID being an issue to make sure that people can vote safely and securely, that has doubled and tripled their numbers is what I’m being told by our local city and township clerks,” she said.

Hinkley’s office is trying to clear up confusion about ballots and candidates.

For instance, it’s not necessary to vote for every office especially if you’re unfamiliar with a candidate.

You can skip it altogether and it will not invalidate your ballot. If there’s a race asking you to pick six candidates you can just pick one and that one vote will still count.

“A lot of people question the school boards for Michigan State, U of M, some of those college boards, they’re not sure who some of those people are and so sometimes they just vote for somebody. Maybe they like the name of the person or something of that sort, so if you’re not comfortable casting a vote for someone you don’t know you can leave that section blank,” said Hinkley.

You can also vote a straight party ticket. If you do that you don’t have to fill in every oval. If you do they will not count twice. If you want to pick someone from a different party than your straight-party choice, that too will be counted.

“Maybe you like the person who’s running in the other party, then you cast your vote for that office and that party, all the rest of your votes for the straight-party ticket will count and then just that particular office by itself will cast a vote that’s separate.”

She says Calhoun County will be ready with social distancing and COVID safety precautions. And if you’re voting in person, no matter the precinct, be ready for delays.

“Make sure you plan more time this year. Be patient, be courteous. Wear your mask if you can and please social distance, be courteous. We’re all there for the same reason and that’s to make sure our voice is heard on election day.”

Hinkley says don’t forget to flip your ballot over as well and vote both side.

You can see the full interview with her on our Facebook page by clicking here.