Today is the big day. This is Election Day 2012.
This is the day we select our president, congressional representatives, U.S. senators, state representatives, county boards, township and town board members and in some cases, local proposals.
If you haven't already done so, be sure to vote today. Polls are open until 8 p.m., so you still have time.
Every election, there are challenges. Every election, someone calls authorities to report questionable or improper behavior.
To help with the voting process, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is reminding voters of some of the general rules surrounding voter conduct at the polls.
"In every major election we encounter similar questions from voters and interested parties about what is allowed in and around the polling place," Johnson said. "In order to ensure integrity and follow Michigan law, we're setting the record straight to prevent any misunderstandings on Election Day."
Some Election Day reminders:
- Photographing ballots: The use of video cameras, still cameras and other recording devices are prohibited in the polls when they are open for voting. This includes still cameras and other recording features built into many cell phones. The ban applies to all voters, challengers, poll watchers and election workers. Exceptions are made for credentialed members of the news media though certain restrictions remain. Photos of ballots should not be posted on social media. Additionally, under Michigan election law, a ballot is rejected if deliberately exposed. A voter who deliberately exposes their ballot will not be allowed to vote in that election.
- Early voting: While some states allow all voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, Michigan does not have early voting. Qualified Michigan voters may fill out absentee ballots prior to Election Day.
- Displaying election-related materials at the polls: Michigan has prohibited this practice for decades. This includes clothing and buttons as well as material such as pamphlets, fliers and stickers. You may not display such items in the polling place or within 100 feet of an entrance to a polling place. If a voter goes to the polls with a T-shirt or button bearing campaign-related images or slogans, he or she will be asked to cover or remove it.
- Voter identification: You will be asked for photo ID when you enter the polls. If you do not have a photo ID or did not bring it with you, you will be asked to sign an affidavit attesting to your identity, and then you can vote. Your ballot will be counted alongside all others on Election Day.
- Voting a straight party ticket: At the top of each political party's column on the ballot, there is an opportunity to vote "straight" party, which selects all candidates on that party's ticket with a single vote. If you vote straight party, there is no need to vote again for any individual candidate in the party column. However, if you do vote straight party and then vote for an individual candidate in that same party, it will not invalidate your vote for that candidate.
- Split-ticket voting: You may "split" your ticket, which means you may vote for candidates of different parties, in the Nov. 6 general election. This differs from the August primary in which you must confine your votes to a single party column. Voters, however, must still be careful not to vote for more candidates than are allowed in specific races. Even if you vote a "straight" ticket, you may cross over and vote for candidates of a different party.
- Voting the entire ballot: You are not required to vote the entire ballot. You may pick and choose the races or ballot questions for which you want to vote. Skipping sections of the ballot does not invalidate your ballot.
- Electronic Pollbook: Many voters will notice election workers using electronic or e-pollbooks when checking in voters at the polls. They are used in 80 percent of all precincts. These are specially programmed laptop computers that replaced the bulky paper lists of voters that were used for decades. Election workers using e-pollbooks will ask for your driver's license, which can then be swiped through a special reader. If you would prefer, you may have the election inspector enter your name manually. The swiping machine does not retain data but simply allows election workers to access basic information, including your name and address.
- Voting rights of residents in jail or prison: Michigan residents confined in jail or prison who are awaiting arraignment or trial are eligible to vote. However, residents who are serving a sentence in jail or prison after conviction cannot vote during the period of confinement. When residents are released from jail or prison after serving a sentence, they are free to participate in elections without restriction.
- Challenges based on home foreclosures: The compilation of home foreclosure information alone does not provide sufficient reason to challenge a person's voting status.