Clerk: Double check precinct number, location before election

By: Cortney Casey | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 31, 2012


If you’re on autopilot when it comes time to head to the polls, a second glance at your voter registration card might be in order.

Congressional redistricting due to the 2010 census prompted the city to reduce and reconfigure its precincts, resulting in new precinct numbers and locations for Sterling Heights residents.

City Clerk Walt Blessed said his office mailed all registered voters new voter cards in June, but he expects some recipients probably assumed it was just a routine card replacement and tossed the slip of paper without noting the change.

The amended precincts were in effect for the August primary, but the turnout is bound to be significantly higher for the November general election, and some voters who participate infrequently or exclusively in presidential elections may not realize that the redistricting occurred, he explained.

“A lot of people only vote every four years,” he said.

Blessed advised voters to visit the city’s website,, and click on the Voter Information Center menu item at left. That directly links visitors to a Michigan Secretary of State page, which will identify the voter’s precinct number and polling location, along with a map.

If a voter shows up at the wrong precinct, poll workers will have to call the Clerk’s Office to determine their proper location; to streamline the process, it’s best to double check before leaving the house, said Blessed.

A sample ballot tailored to a resident by address also is available on the Secretary of State site, allowing the viewer to review the myriad races and issues and make a decision prior to heading to the polls, said Blessed.

The tool is especially helpful considering the number — six — and length of the state proposals appearing on the ballot, he said.

Presidential elections are typically a huge draw at the polls compared to other elections, and Blessed expects the upcoming one to be no different.

He’s anticipating Sterling Heights’ participation rate to be on the higher end of average, around 70 percent, due to residents’ concerns about the economy and the slew of contentious state proposals.

“Sixty-eight percent, roughly, is typical,” he said. “That’s what we had in ‘08.”

By contrast, the August 2012 primary election drew only 20 percent of the city’s 87,122 registered voters.

Countywide, Chief Election Clerk Roger Cardamone is setting his estimates lower but his hopes higher.

“We are anticipating it’s probably going to be in the 63 to 65 (percent) range,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong and it’s much higher than 65 percent.”

Cardamone said Macomb County’s turnout was around 70 percent in the last presidential election, but this time around there are more registered voters — just over 617,000 total — so he believes the latest election will draw around the same actual number of voters but a smaller percentage of the whole.

He called the number of state ballot proposals “unprecedented,” but noted that the length of Macomb County residents’ ballots pales in comparison to counterparts in Detroit, who will have two ballots to accommodate a flurry of city charter amendments, along with all of the other races and issues.

“We’re hearing a lot of people are voting absentee for that reason, because they really want to take time and research the proposals. … They don’t want to be rushed in the ballot booth,” he said.

Cardamone said he feels the proposals — which address hotly debated issues like collective bargaining — will be as much of a draw for voters as the presidential race.

“If you look at the spots running on TV, there’s nothing for President (Barack) Obama and Mr. (Mitt) Romney. … All the advertising on TV is for the ballot proposals,” he said. “I think those will definitely bring some folks out.”

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Voters should come prepared to show photo ID, and if they don’t have it on them, they’ll be required to sign an affidavit stating as much, said Blessed.

“People are always surprised they have to show their … ID,” he said, “but that’s been around for a while now.”

Blessed noted that a controversial box that was originally slated to appear on the ballots, asking voters to verify their U.S. citizenship, will not appear due to ongoing disputes over the box’s constitutionality.

Residents can request absentee ballots up until 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 and still receive them by U.S. mail. Applications are available online by clicking on the link in the upper right-hand corner at www.

To qualify to vote absentee, residents must be age 60 or older; expect to be absent from the community for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day; be physically unable to attend the polls without assistance; or be unable to go to the polls due to religious tenets, status as an election precinct inspector or confinement in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

Completed absentee ballots are due back to Blessed’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, but he urges anyone who’s completed theirs early to return it as soon as possible to expedite the process.

As the precincts must be neutral environments, voters casting ballots in person cannot have any visible campaign literature or attire with declarations supporting any particular issue or candidate, he added.

For more information on the election, visit or call the City Clerk’s Office at (586) 446-2420.