Primary education: Voter forum to be held

MARQUETTE — Michigan’s voting season is kicking off soon with the March 10 presidential primary election, and Marquette is one of many cities preparing its residents to fill out their ballots.

The Marquette Senior Center and Marquette City Deputy Clerk Kyle Whitney will host a voter information forum for citizens to register to vote, fill out an absentee and answer any questions people have on voting from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday in Room B at the Marquette Senior Center.

This is the first of a handful of voter forums for the 2020 election season, and it gives a chance for people to have their questions answered early on, Whitney said.

“I would encourage people to come if they are looking for an absentee ballot or they want to check their registration status,” Whitney said. “… I’m viewing it as an open-office hours sort of thing.”

Registering to vote absentee been simplified, as in November 2018, voters adopted amendments to change voting laws and one of the biggest changes was the absentee ballot process; now, people are not required to provide a reason to vote absentee, whereas absentee voting was previously limited to a select few populations, mainly senior citizens.

People can also register to vote online or print an absentee ballot at home visiting michigan.gov/vote and turn it into their local clerk’s office.

“With the laws changing, I think we’re going to have, on some level, a lot more people voting absentee than have voted in the past, just because they don’t need a reason anymore,” Whitney said. “And because of that, you’re getting a lot more voter registration drives now, those are being paired with drives to register people for permanent absentee applications.”

Voting is an American’s civic duty and all election cycles are vital in a person’s everyday life, Whitney added.

“I think it’s the most direct line to your government in a lot of ways. This is going to be a big year for elections because it’s a presidential year and people want to vote in a presidential election. But I always try to make a point to tell people that all the other stuff on the ballot or the stuff on the off-year ballots — your state reps, local city commission, township board or county commissioners — those people have a much more direct line to your daily life than the president does,” Whitney said. “Not to say it’s not important to vote for president, but it’s also very important I think to make your voice heard on a local level as well.”

For more local voting information, visit marquette.mi.gov/elections.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.