Monday is last day to register to vote

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News
  • Monday is the last day Michiganians can registered to vote in the Nov. 4 election.
  • Michigan’s voter registration rolls have grown 2.3 percent to 7.41 million.
  • Applicants must be 18 or older by Election Day, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the state.

Monday is the last day Michiganians can register to vote in the Nov. 4 election, which involves races for the U.S. Senate and governor to state education boards to local posts.

“Every community will have an election in November and so I encourage you to register to vote,” said Ruth Johnson, Michigan’s secretary of state and chief election officer. “Registration only takes a few minutes and then your voice can be heard at the ballot box.”

Clerks in some counties, including Macomb, will stay open late Monday to accommodate procrastinators, who have until 11:59 p.m. to register. The Macomb County Clerk’s Office is at 40 N. Main in Mount Clemens.

“We will accept Michigan voter registration forms until midnight Monday,” clerk Carmella Sabaugh said in a statement. “Your vote is your voice. Registering to vote is the first step.”

Michigan’s voter registration rolls have grown 2.3 percent to 7.41 million in July from 7.24 million in July 2008.

But the number of active voters — those who have voted in the past six years or who did not respond to a request to confirm residence information — is lower at 6.54 million. The Legislature created the separate active and inactive voter lists in 2012.

“The point is to give clerks a more realistic count of voters so they can better prepare for Election Day,” said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams. “Voters on the inactive list still may vote.”

Democratic voters typically turn up at the polls in smaller numbers for midterm elections than during presidential election years. But Michigan Democratic Party efforts have been bolstered by national campaign initiatives.

The AFL-CIO has a nationwide campaign targeting Snyder and five other GOP governors for defeat. The Democratic National Committee has supplied data-rich files on voters and web applications to generate more voter participation, including a polling place locator, a social media “commit to vote” pledge and a Web tool that can quickly connect volunteers to local party organizers.

Democratic strategies are matched by a dashboard tool launched by the Michigan GOP in February that is similar to one used by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Republican campaign volunteers make phone bank calls from their homes and upload responses without having to drive to a field office. Neighbors' phone numbers and addresses are loaded into the GOP dashboard, and volunteers can import their own contacts from Facebook.

There also is more of a GOP emphasis on year-round field operations to have regular contact with voters. The Michigan Republican Party created 11 field offices, including one that opened in December in Detroit.

Applicants must be 18 or older by Election Day, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the state. They may register in person at a Secretary of State office or at their county, city or township clerk’s office — or register by mail.

The mail-in form is available at www.michigan.gov/elections.

First-time voters who register by mail are required to vote in person in their first election — unless they hand in their form directly to a local clerk or are 60 or older, disabled, live overseas or are in the military.

Johnson also reminds registered voters that they can vote by absentee ballot.

Among the qualifications to vote early by absentee ballot:

■60 or older.

■Expect to be out of town for the entire Election Day.

■Can’t get to the polls for religious reasons.

■Physically unable to get to the polls without help.

■In jail awaiting trial or arraignment.

■Working as an election inspector in a precinct outside your city of residence.

Voters can check their registration status, find their polling place, see a sample ballot, find out about voting equipment or discover how to contact their local clerk by visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.michigan.gov/vote.

kbouffard@detroitnews.com