Oakland County Clerk Answers Questions Regarding Presidential Primary
Bill Bullard Jr. explains how Michigan's 'closed primary' on Feb. 28 works.
Today is the Feb. 28 presidential primary, and for the first time, voters will have to choose between a Republican or Democratic ballot. The change has left some wondering if they are being forced to declare a party affiliation.
On the Oakland County website, County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. tries to clear up any confusion regarding the ballot changes. The following questions and answers are from "Ask Bill," in which Bullard explains why this primary election is different.
Q. I heard I have to declare a party preference in order to vote. Is that true?
A. Not exactly. However, in order to vote in the Republican or Democratic Presidential Primary, you must specify which party’s ballot you are requesting prior to voting.
Q. Does that mean I will always be labeled as a supporter of one party or the other?
A. While not officially registering a voter by party, the record of which primary a voter chooses is part of the public record for a period of 22 months.
Q. Why is this election different?
A. Technically, this is called a Presidential Preference Primary, and it is really a partisan function in a way other elections are not. Some states, like Iowa, hold caucuses to determine how many delegates a candidate for President wins from that state. Many other states have partisan registration when you register to vote. Since Michigan does not, and we have a “closed primary,” local clerks are required to do it this way.
Q. What if I am voting absentee?
A. Absentee voters must check a box indicating which ballot they are requesting on their absentee ballot application or they will not receive a ballot. That is the rule the Legislature has set up.
Q. What if I want to vote on a local issue, but not the Presidential Primary?
A. Several communities also have nonpartisan/separate election questions. These questions will be listed on both party’s ballots, however you may also request a separate nonpartisan ballot to vote in just those races.
Oakland County communities with nonpartisan questions on the Feb. 28 ballot are:
- City of Auburn Hills
- City of Clawson
- City of Pontiac
- Village of Franklin
- Ferndale Public Schools
Q. Who will appear on the Presidential Primary ballot for each party?
A. The following presidential primary candidates will be listed on the Feb. 28 ballot. Candidates who have withdrawn from the race remain on the ballot because they withdrew after the deadline. The Democratic Party is holding a caucus on May 5 and will be honoring the results of that contest only.
- Michelle Bachmann
- Herman Cain
- Newt Gingrich
- Jon Huntsma
- Gary Johnson
- Fred Karger
- Ron Paul
- Rick Perry
- Buddy Roemer
- Mitt Romney
- Rick Santorum
- Barack Obama
Correction: The Democratic Party is holding a caucus on May 5.