Table of Contents
I. The State of Voting Rights in Michigan
II. Why meet with your City or Township Clerk
III. How to Have an Effective Meeting with Your Clerk
IV. How to Build a Strong Team to Meet with Your Clerk
V. How To Manage Your Team of Volunteers
VI. How to Follow Up with your Clerk After the Meeting
VII. Statewide Partners
Voting in Michigan has never been more convenient and secure. In 2018, Michigan passed a law allowing voters to register to vote online. And last November, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 3, amending the state constitution to expand voting rights. As a result of these changes hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens will register to vote and make their voice heard in electing our next President.
While Michiganders have changed the rules, rule changes alone do not guarantee a voting system that works for everyone. We need your help to make sure these new voting rights are fully implemented. A very important way to do that is to work with your local City or Township Clerk to ensure elections run smoothly and that every eligible citizen can vote. Your City or Township Clerk is the public official with primary responsibility for managing elections in your community. They play a pivotal role in ensuring our Democracy works for everyone.
Here are some areas where you can work with your City or Township Clerk:
With the passage of Proposal 3, all registered voters in Michigan can vote early using an absentee ballot either through the mail or in person. In future elections, Michigan may have twice as many or more voters casting their ballot early. Most communities in Michigan will need to increase their capacity to process absentee ballots. While this will mean different things in different communities, all communities will need to adjust their operations.
Your City or Township Clerk can increase the hours and locations for citizens to vote early by absentee ballot. Your community can make early voting accessible for busy, working people by adding evening and weekend hours.
With the passage of Proposal 3, Michigan citizens can now register to vote at any time. Up until 14 days prior to an election, citizens can register at a variety of locations - Secretary of State branch offices; the voter’s city, township or county clerk’s office; through a voter registration drive. Starting on the 14th day before an election and through 8pm on Election Day, citizens can only register to vote with the help of their City or Township Clerk or their staff. While the demand will vary in each community, most communities will need to adjust their operations to provide for voter registrations close to and on Election Day.
Your City or Township Clerk can increase the hours and locations for registration during the last 14 days and on Election Day. Your community can make voter registration accessible for busy, working people by adding evening and weekend hours.
Across the country, poll workers play a critical role in protecting our voting rights. Unfortunately, Clerks across the country struggle to recruit an adequate number of poll workers. In Michigan, City and Township clerks are responsible for determining how many poll workers are needed for each election and recruiting the necessary number of poll workers. In some communities, poll workers may need specific skills like being bilingual. Communities across Michigan need help recruiting an adequate number of poll workers with the appropriate skills to serve the voting public.
Your City or Township clerk can partner with citizens and community organizations to recruit poll workers with the skills needed in your community. Your community can provide superior service to voters with disabilities and voters who need assistance in a language other than English by recruiting poll workers with these skills and knowledge.
Public education is needed to ensure citizens can exercise their right to vote. State and local governments also will need to increase public education in the upcoming elections to ensure citizens can exercise their new voting rights. City and Township Clerks want elections to go smoothly in their communities by ensuring citizens know their rights, get registered or update their registration early, and vote early.
Your City or Township Clerk can partner with citizens and community groups to educate the public about their voting rights. Your community can ensure we have a voting system that works for all by educating voters about their voting rights well before Election Day.
- To establish regular, two-way communication. Suggest meeting monthly to have open and honest communication about the needs of the community and the clerk. Commit to working together to address those needs. Also, ask the clerk the best way to get the community’s questions answered.
To ask your Clerk to commit to some or all of the following to implement Proposal 3:
- Increase evening and weekend hours for early voting (in person absentee) and voter registration.
- Open satellite absentee voting locations.
- Offer voter registration at all satellite absentee voting locations up to and including Election Day.
- Create a permanent absentee voter list. Voters on this list are mailed an application for an absentee ballot prior to each election.
- Recruit voters to sign up for an existing permanent absentee voter list.
- Establish secure, convenient absentee ballot drop boxes for voters to submit their completed absentee ballots after hours.
- Provide postage paid return envelopes for absentee ballots.
- Expand and diversify recruitment of poll workers.
- Boost resources for educating voters.
- Increase voter registration activities in the community.
- To ask your Clerk to commit to addressing any barrier to voting in your city or township. You can take this opportunity to raise any pervasive problem about voting in your city or township. These could include long lines, understaffed polling locations, inadequate signage, inaccessible polling places or machines, lack of bilingual poll workers, inadequate supplies, and other issues your community faces.
To find your clerk, you can enter any address on this site.
Once you’ve found your clerk, call their office to schedule a meeting! Don’t worry if your meeting is scheduled with one of your clerk’s staff members--they’ll relay your conversation directly to the clerk.
Before your meeting, be sure to do some research on your clerk--this will help you find out why they care about voting in your city or township. You should use this information to connect with your clerk at your meeting. It’s also important to carve out some time to practice for your meeting.
At your meeting, be sure to have a clear ask of your clerk. Having one ask helps your point stick--and sets the stage for follow up with your clerk about their progress on addressing your concerns.
Along with a clear ask, develop an agenda ahead of time. Also, divide up roles and responsibilities of all meeting participants ahead of time. To help you with your planning, we’ve created a meeting planning guide to help you think through your meeting! Below is a sample agenda you can follow, but remember the most important thing is to demonstrate to your clerk that you’re passionate about full & equal access to the ballot.
- Who are you?
Start the discussion--including a personal story is very impactful, if you have one
- Why are you meeting with your clerk (be specific about the issue)?
- Leave space for the clerk to respond
- Make a clear ask of your clerk to address voting concerns in your city or township.
- Conclude/thank you
- Get a business card
You can meet with your clerk on your own, or in a team. If you’re hoping to build a team, here are a few tips:
Group meetings are most effective when you have a group of constituents from your community--these can be friends, neighbors, or family members. People don’t need to have any prior knowledge of voting rights!
If you know of people who have experienced problems voting, they can make a great addition to your meeting, and help your clerk put a human face to the voting problems in their community.
Because Michigan’s pro-voting ballot efforts this past year were volunteer heavy, bringing a volunteer who worked on one of those campaigns can be a huge help and shows that the community wants accessible voting.
If you’re interested in opening up the pool of potential volunteers, post your event to our PeoplePower Map & volunteers in your area can sign up to attend your meeting! You’ll be able to contact these volunteers before your meeting.
Building a team of volunteers is the first step--but we want to make sure you have the tools necessary to effectively manage your team!
To keep track of your volunteers, we recommend keeping some basic information about your volunteers: Name, Email Address, Phone Number, Zip Code and Action Taken. We’ve created a sample tracking sheet to help you get started!
It’s important to maintain regular communication with your volunteers--keep them up to date on progress with your clerk and upcoming meetings.
After your meeting--tell us how it went! Fill out this form and email it to email@example.com. We’ll use the results of your meeting to inform our voting rights agenda. We’ll follow up with an email with some guidance on next steps with your clerk!
It’s also important to follow up with your clerk after the meeting! Call their office to schedule a follow up meeting. Your follow up meeting is a great opportunity check in with your clerk on the asks you made in your first meeting, and continue building the relationship.
It will take a village to ensure we have a voting system that works for all. That’s why we are partnering with other organizations on this effort, including the League of Women Voters of Michigan, the Michigan State Conference NAACP, and Voters Not Politicians. We will help you connect with statewide partners and other stakeholders in your area to collaborate on clerk meetings. We also encourage you to reach out to local partners in your area to collaborate as well.
If your organization is interested in being a partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You now have all the tools you need to become a voting rights ambassador for your community. We’re so excited to see the change you create at a local level! Need help before or after your meeting? Email: email@example.com and we’ll be glad to help.