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Get to Know Your Election Officials
Making sense of Michigan's election system can be a daunting prospect, but it
isn't difficult once you have a basic understanding of the people who make it
Michigan's election system is a complex, highly decentralized system made up of
83 counties, 277 cities and 1,240 townships.
The secretary of state serves as Michigan's chief election officer, with the
Bureau of Elections acting on the secretary's behalf. The bureau is responsible
for the integrity of the state's elections by ensuring election laws are
followed, training and advising 1,600 clerks, compiling election results
for federal and state elections and providing instructional materials.
Next are the county election officials. Counties support the election process in
a number of ways. Each county has a County Election Commission, with the chief
judge of probate of the county or probate court district, the county clerk and
county treasurer. The commission provides election supplies, including ballots
for federal, state and county elections.
County clerks receive and certify petitions for countywide offices and ballot
proposals. The county also accepts campaign finance reports from local
candidates and trains precinct inspectors.
The conduct of local elections and operation of polling places is handled at the
city or township level. A City or Township Election Commission determines
precinct boundaries, assesses voting equipment needs, provides voting supplies
and ballots for local elections. The commission is also responsible for
appointing precinct inspectors.
Precinct inspectors are the workers who manage the polls on election day. They
enter voters' names in the poll book, assist with questions, distribute ballots,
make sure proper voting procedures are followed and help maintain the integrity
of the elections process.
After you have voted in an election, the results are reviewed by the appropriate
Board of Canvassers in each city, township and county. The canvassers certify
election results from the jurisdiction they serve in. Similarly, a four-member
Board of State Canvassers certifies the results of all statewide offices,
district offices that cross county lines and statewide ballot proposals. Once
all the canvassers have met, the results are considered final.
Each Board of Canvassers consists of two Republicans and two Democrats.
Voting is an important civic duty, forming the very heart of our democratic
system. Gaining a better understanding of how the system works makes you a
better-informed voter and citizen. Voting gives you the power to change your
community, state and country for the better. Please remember to vote this year!