Ask the Librarian! 6-17

Q: With all the talk of presidential candidates in the news, I’m starting to think more about voting and how it really works. I will turn 18 before the next presidential election and would like to know if the library has any books on this topic?

A: This is an excellent question given the upcoming presidential election in 2008! There is a lot of information available on how voting and elections work. Many websites, encyclopedias and books have information on this topic. Check out some of these resources for more in-depth information:

o State of Michigan’s Secretary of State website: www.michigan.gov/sos (Click on ‘Elections in Michigan’ and then ‘Information for Voters’ in the menu on the left side of the screen)
o Online encyclopedia/ almanac: www.infoplease.com (type ‘voting’ or ‘elections’ into the search box)
o Books
– Securing Democracy: Why We Have An Electoral College ~ Edited by Gary L. Gregg II
– Are American Elections Fair? ~ Stuart A. Kallen, book editor
– Gender And Elections: Shaping The Future Of American Politics ~ edited by Susan J. Carroll
– U.S. Election System ~ edited by Paul McCaffrey
– The Right To Vote: The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States by Alexander Keyssar
– Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections And The Rotten History Of Democracy In America by Andrew Gumbel

Let me also provide a brief overview of the voting process. To start, any American-born or naturalized citizen of the United States who is at least 18 years old is eligible to vote in local, state and national elections. In Michigan, if you just turned 18 and are a new voter, you can register to vote for federal, state, and local elections by mail; at your county, city, or township clerk’s office; or by visiting any Secretary of State branch office. In addition, specified agencies providing services through the Department of Human Services, the Department of Community Health and the Department of Labor and Economic Growth offer voter registration services to their clients. Military recruitment centers also provide voter registration services.

You must register at least 30 days before the election. This gives the clerk time to process the forms and send you a Voter Identification Card. If you move within a city or township, you must update your address. This can be handled through your local clerk, at a Secretary of State branch office, by mail or at any other location where voter registrations are accepted. Whenever you move to a new city or township, you must re-register to vote. The residential address used for your voter registration must be the same as the address on your driver’s license. Consequently, when you submit a driver’s license address change, it will be applied to your voter registration. Similarly, when you submit a voter registration address change, it will be applied to your driver’s license.

On Election Day, voters report to a local polling place (school, church, government building). To find out where you vote, look at your Voter Registration card. It will tell you the location of your polling place. If you’ve lost your Voter Registration card, you can find out by visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center online. This site is run through the State of Michigan – https://services2.sos.state.mi.us/mivote/ – and all you do is type in your first and last name, your birth month, birth year and zip code. The database will then give you a detailed listing of your polling location, including a map! It will also tell you the date of the next election as well as the last day to register before that election.

Elizabeth Kudwa is the Head Librarian at the Leslie Library,
201 Pennsylvania Street, Leslie, MI. Contact her at 517-589-9400 or by e-mail at