Election Day manners Voters reminded of proper conduct while at the polls

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reminds voters of proper conduct within the polling place on Election Day, especially as it pertains to cameras.

"The use of video cameras, still cameras and other recording devices is prohibited in the polls when they are open for voting," said Land. "This includes recording features built into many of today's cell phones. These restrictions ensure that you are able to vote a secret ballot in complete privacy. I encourage all voters to remember these policies when at the polls on Election Day."

The ban applies to all voters as well as challengers, poll watchers and election workers. Exceptions are made for credentialed members of the news media though certain restrictions remain. The ban protects voters who may feel intimidated in the polling place by the presence of a camera.

Additionally, under Michigan election law, a ballot is rejected if deliberately exposed and the voter who does so will not be allowed to vote in that election. The ban also serves as a deterrent to those who may try to sell their vote which is prohibited by law.

Land addressed other topics generating voters' questions, including:

* Voting rights of residents in jail or prison: Michigan residents confined in jail or prison who are awaiting arraignment or trial are eligible to vote. However, residents who are serving a sentence in jail or prison after conviction cannot vote during the period of confinement. When residents are released from jail or prison after serving a sentence, they are free to participate in elections without restriction.

* Early voting: While some states allow all voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, Michigan does not have early voting. Of course, qualified Michigan voters can cast absentee ballots prior to Election Day.

* Displaying election-related materials at the polls: Michigan has prohibited this practice for decades. It includes clothing and buttons as well as material such as pamphlets, fliers and stickers. You cannot 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.

* Voting a straight party ticket: At the top of each political party's column on the ballot, there is an opportunity to vote "straight" party, which selects all candidates on that 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 either party, it will not invalidate your vote for that candidate.

* Split-ticket voting: You may "split" your ticket - vote for candidates of different parties - in the Nov. 2 general election. This differs from the August primary in which you must confine your votes to a single party column. Selections are not invalidated unless you cast votes for more candidates than are allowed in a certain race. Even if you vote a "straight" ticket, you may cross over and vote for candidates of a different party.

* Voting a portion of the 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.

* Challenges based on home foreclosures: The compilation of home foreclosure information alone does not provide sufficient reason to challenge a person's voting status. In fact, the Michigan Republican and Democratic parties are in agreement that so-called foreclosure lists do not provide a reasonable basis to challenge voters.

For additional information, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.Michigan.gov/vote <http://www.michigan.gov/vote> or contact your local clerk.

Published: Thu, Oct 21, 2010