Grand Traverse, Benzie County Clerks Prepare for Michigan Presidential Primary

Today’s the day Michigan voters can let their voices be heard.

It’s the Presidential Primary Election Day here in Michigan, and the polls open at 7 a.m.

With 59 delegates up for grabs for republicans, and 130 for democrats, local county clerks say today’s elections are crucial.

At least two county clerks in Northern Michigan are confident that today’s turnout will be higher than usual.

“If I get out by two, three o’clock in the morning, we are pretty lucky,” says Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele.

Election Day –when everything comes to a head for the county, city and township clerks.

They started planning this months ago to make sure all goes smoothly.

“We’ve been working on this election since last November or so,” Scheele says. “It’s a long process. Not every single day, but there’s a lot of preparation to every election.”

The county clerk does a number of things to prepare before they get the ballots.

They train election inspectors and have voting machines tested for any problems.

Dawn Olney, a Benzie County Clerk, recalls some of the work they have to do to get everything ready before Election Day.

“The ballot prep, the ballot layout, ordering of ballot supplies, the number or quantity of ballots that are going to be needed by each jurisdiction.”

Then township and city clerks issue ballots.

Election officials say today could have the highest voter turnout in a combined presidential primary since it was introduced 44 years ago.

Both Grand Traverse and Benzie counties are expecting plenty of voters this primary cycle.

They say a typical primary turnout is just over 20%.

“If we can have 55%, 60% turnout that’d be great,” says Olney.

And they say since both democrats and republicans have a primary, they have high hopes.

“So this year we have a race in the democratic side and the republican side,” says Scheele. “Quite a few candidates to choose from. All eyes are looking at Michigan right now.”

To keep things running smoothly at the precincts, voters can check out sample ballots on Michigan.gov/vote before they head out to cast their vote.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All voters must bring a driver’s license or other photo I.D.