NEWS RELEASE: Secretary Johnson reminds voters about Election Day rules

Media Release from Secretary of State Ruth Johnson

-- For immediate release --

Secretary Johnson reminds voters about Election Day rules

Election News

No cameras, campaign-related materials allowed in polling places


LANSING, Mich. - Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is reminding voters of some of the general rules surrounding voter conduct at the polls.

“Voters across the state typically have many questions about voting procedures in polling places ahead of each major election,” Johnson said. “To ensure integrity and follow Michigan law, we’re setting the record straight to avoid any misunderstandings on Election Day.”

Some Election Day rules to remember include:

  • 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 taken. Additionally, under Michigan election law, a ballot is rejected if deliberately exposed to another person. A voter who deliberately exposes their ballot will not be allowed to vote in that election. The laws requiring a secret ballot and prohibiting ballot exposure were enacted more than 125 years ago to prevent vote buying and voter intimidation.
  • 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 the ballot, there is an opportunity to vote “straight” party, which voters may use to select all candidates on one political 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. Voters still must vote in the sections for nonpartisan offices and ballot questions if they voted a straight-party ticket.
  • Split-ticket voting: You may “split” your ticket, which means you may vote for candidates of different parties in the Nov. 8 general election. This differs from the August primary in which you must confine your votes to a single party column. Note that even if you vote a “straight” ticket, you may vote for candidates of a different political party in individual races. Voters, however, must still be careful not to vote for more candidates than are allowed in specific races.
  • 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.
  • Voting equipment: Michigan uses an optical scan voting system statewide using a paper ballot and three different vote tabulating machine brands from two companies, Dominion Election Systems’ Optech Insight; and Election Systems & Software, which sells the AccuVote and M100 models. The voting machines that tally the paper ballots were purchased more than a decade ago. Despite rumors circulating online, no voting machines used in Michigan were made or sold by Smartmatic.  Additionally, the tabulators are not connected to the Internet.
  • Poll challengers and watchers: Voters may see poll challengers, who typically stand near the election workers, and poll watchers, who remain in the public area of the polling place, in their polling place on Election Day. State law allows both types of observers to monitor polling places and ensure election integrity. However, neither challengers nor watchers should speak to voters or otherwise interact with them. People concerned about the behavior of anyone in a polling place should speak with the precinct chairperson first about the matter, or the local clerk’s office. Precinct workers are trained to address improper behavior and have the authority to remove disruptive individuals.

“Because of the redundancy, multiple checks and balances, independently elected clerks, and including representatives of the major political parties at every step of the election process, Michigan’s election system performs well,” Johnson said. “Michigan voters can have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the results.”

Johnson reminds voters that polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Voters can know before they go to the polls by visiting

For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau or Fred Woodhams at 517-373-2520.

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