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Voters must register by July 7, participation encouraged in upcoming elections

In order to prepare for upcoming elections, citizens may obtain voter registration applications online or in person at various locations. Voters may go online to find their precinct where they are registered to vote.
Underwriting support from:

Where to register to vote in person:

Kent County Clerk's Office

300 Monroe Ave. NW


City of Grand Rapids Clerk's Office

300 Monroe Ave. NW


The Secretary of State Offices

1 Division Ave. S

Centerpointe Mall

3472 Plainfield Ave NW


The Department of Health and Human Services

121 Franklin St. SE

Statistically, less people vote in local elections than national elections due to misconceptions on how the vote counts and errors in voter registration. Darlene O’Neal, City Clerk of Grand Rapids, believes that the issue of lack of voting is not for one particular reason.

“I think it may be a community by community issue,” O’Neal says.

O’Neal said that her job as the City Clerk is to make sure that everyone has a chance at voting within the legal parameters.

“Certainly, as a clerk, you want to see a great turnout,” O’Neal says. “It's our desire, always, to make sure that voters know how to register and how to vote, make sure that they have accessibility, and we do what we can do to educate. But that's the big payoff, that we were able to assist with making sure that voters vote.”

Elections for the next mayor of Grand Rapids will be held on Aug. 4. In order to vote, local citizens must be registered 30 days before the election date which in this case will be July 7.

According to the City of Grand Rapids website, the basic requirements are that the voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and a resident of Michigan and the City of Grand Rapids.

Local citizens can get assistance with voter registration at the Kent County Clerk’s Office, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of State office.

Already registered voters must update their address every time they move. Updates can be made at the City Clerk Office and the Secretary of State Office by filling out a new Voter Registration form.

If the voter expects to be out of town when the elections occur, or is physically not able to make it out to the designated precinct, an absentee ballot is another option. According to the City of Grand Rapids website, a voter must fit at least one of the following requirements to cast an absentee ballot.

  • The voter is at least 60 years old

  • The voter cannot make it to the voting polls due to religion, disability, or the expectation of being out of town

  • The voter is in jail or awaiting trial

  • The voter is an election precinct inspector in a precinct that is not the one where they are normally assigned

In order to get an absentee ballot, the voter can fill out a form online and send it into the City Clerk office, or call (616) 456-3010. Absentee ballots must be in the Clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Voters who are currently living abroad or are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces may fill out a separate application. This ballot is due June 20th, 45 days prior to the election.   

When reviewing voter registration applications, the City Clerk’s office will only red flag anything if the form is not filled out correctly. Even so, they will send the application back to the potential voter and make it clear what they have filled out incorrectly.

On Election Day, voters must have their photo ID ready when preparing to cast a vote at their precinct. If they don’t, they will be asked to sign an affidavit before proceeding to vote. To find a precinct, the voter can look up the exact location by clicking on their city on the Access Kent website.

O’Neal says that she believes anyone with the ability to vote should exercise that right in every election, big or small.

“Historically…(women) couldn't vote at some point in time. People of color, they were not allowed to vote and over the years, people have fought for the right to vote,” O’Neal said. “So today, we all need to exercise our right to vote to pay homage, if you will, to those who fought so long and hard for the right to vote.”

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