BENTON HARBOR — For the first time in Benton Harbor, people can register to vote and vote on the same day during Tuesday’s primary election.
“This is different,” said City Clerk Kimberly Thompson. “I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know if we’ll get flooded with people or if we will only get a few.”
The passage of the Promote the Vote state constitutional amendment last November led to voters being allowed to vote the same day they register. Before the proposal was passed, people had to register at least 30 days in advance in order to vote.
Thompson said people registering to vote Tuesday or who need to update their address may do so in person in her office at city hall, 200 E. Wall St. She said residency verification is required. Acceptable documents include: driver’s license; bank statement; state ID card; paycheck; current utility bill; government check and other government documents.
Voting hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“Someone will be here at all times to help people,” she said.
People registering to vote in her office will be given the choice of filling out an absentee ballot or going to the polls to vote.
In addition, she said she is holding office hours for absentee voting and voter registration, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at city hall.
The May 7 election was the first one conducted under the new rules, but only affected four local municipalities – St. Joseph and the townships of St. Joseph, Lincoln and Royalton.
Benton Harbor is the only municipality in Berrien County with a primary election Tuesday, Thompson said. Voters will decide which two of the six mayoral candidates will continue on to face off Nov. 5 for the four-year post.
Another change is that the state now has “no reason” absentee voting. Before that, voters could only request an absentee ballot for one of six reasons, including if they were going to be out of town or if they were over 60. Absentee ballots can be cast beginning 45 days prior to election day.
In a news release, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the changes allow voters to vote at their convenience.
Of Michigan’s 83 counties, 49 will hold elections Tuesday.
To register to vote, applicants must be at least 18 years old by the election and U.S. citizens. Applicants also must be residents of Michigan and of the city or township in which they wish to register for at least 30 days before the election.
For more information, download the New Rights for Michigan Voters flier at Michigan.gov/Elections.
To check your registration status, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at Michigan.gov/Vote. You can view a sample ballot and find your polling place. You also can find information about how to use voting equipment and how to contact your local clerk.
Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege