Why you need to vote Aug. 5

Michigan’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug 5.

Much of the public views primary elections as ho-hum, a vote that makes little or no difference.

That would be wrong, very wrong.

Besides selecting Republican candidates for U.S. representative in northern Michigan, and a statewide ballot proposal, this election will narrow the list candidates for some Dickinson County Board seats and settle millage proposals for Breitung Township Schools, and Iron Mountain Public Schools.

“Voting provides you an opportunity to make your voice heard not only in your community but throughout the state,” said Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

Because this is a primary, voters are reminded that they can only cast votes within one party. Casting votes in a partisan primary for both Republican and Democratic candidates invalidates the partisan section of the primary ballot.

Nonpartisan offices and proposals will appear after the partisan section of the ballot.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The Michigan Voter Information Center can help residents determine whether they’re registered to vote. Voters can also view a sample ballot, find their polling location and track their absentee ballots.

There is still time for voters to obtain an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:

– Age 60 or older.

– Physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.

– Expecting to be out of town for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day.

– In jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

– Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons.

– Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday.

Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, Aug. 4 must vote the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.

Residents who registered to vote by mail or via a voter registration drive and have never voted in Michigan are not eligible to vote by absentee ballot in their first election.

They must vote in person at their precinct. This restriction does not apply to voters who are overseas, disabled or 60 or older.

Voters are reminded of a change to the ballot application, both at the polls and if they are absentee voters.

Under Michigan law, by signing the application, the voter certifies that he or she is a U.S. citizen. The revised application forms also remind voters that they must be citizens to vote.

Voters must also fulfill identification requirements under Michigan law.

They will be asked to present photo ID at the polls, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them can still vote.

They will sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Voters obtaining absentee ballots in person must meet the same photo identification requirement as voters who cast ballots in the polling place.

A specially equipped voting station called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal is also available at each polling location for use by voters with disabilities.

Key items on the ballot include:

– Republican primary races for Dickinson County Board of Commissioner seats.

– Democratic primary races for state representative.

– Breitung Township School District’s building and site sinking fund millage proposal to increase the tax levy by not more than .70 mills for 10 years to purchase real estate sites for the construction or repair of school buildings and other purposes authorized by law.

– Iron Mountain School District’s operating millage renewal proposal. This would allow the school to continue to levy 17.937 mills for 20 years to fund school operating costs. This renews the millage that expires with the 2014 tax levy.

– Proposal 1. This is an effort to end a state tax on manufacturing and small business equipment that has been years in the making.

Proposal 1, the only statewide question on the ballot, would reimburse local governments for their lost personal property tax revenue by sharing a portion of the state’s use tax.

The personal property tax is paid by businesses and particularly manufacturers and is based on the value of their machinery, office furniture and other equipment. Some Michigan communities rely on the tax revenues to pay for basic services.

State lawmakers already have voted to repeal the tax on small businesses and manufacturers, but the issue still needs voter approval. The measure has no organized opposition.

Proposal 1 has broad support across northern Michigan, including the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs. Other supporters include the Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Farm Bureau, and AARP Michigan.

Be sure to vote on Aug. 5.