1. Anatomy of an Election
By Comstock Charter Township Clerk Nicole Beauchamp and
Communications Development Coordinator Matt Miller
2. Step 1: Updating the Qualified Voter File
• We are constantly updating the
Qualified Voter File.
• As voters pass away or move to different
communities, we remove them from the
• We add new voters to the roll as they
• Michigan is 1 of 8 states that conducts
elections at the local level.
3. Step 2: Sending out Absent Voter (AV)
• AV Applications are sent to those who request to be placed on our permanent AV
list or request one for a specific election.
• AV ballots will not be sent to voters unless an application is filled out, signed and
• When applications are returned, the signature is verified against the signature in
the Qualified Voter File.
• If the signature on the AV application doesn’t match the signature in the Qualified
Voter File, the voter is required to come in and verify their signature.
• Each Absent Voter Ballot is assigned to a voter in the Qualified Voter File to
ensure voters are only issued one ballot. A voter cannot be issued two ballots.
4. Step 3: Preparing the Ballots
• The County Clerk builds the ballots once all
candidates and proposals are approved, and
then sends these to local clerks for review.
• Once reviewed, County Clerks send final
ballots to state-approved printers.
• As soon as the ballots arrive and are tested,
they are sent out to voters who have
submitted verified AV applications.
• Returned AV ballots are locked and secured
until they are tabulated on Election Day.
5. Step 4: Election Inspectors appointed by Election
• Election Inspectors run the precincts, including the Absent Voter Counting Board
• They check voter’s IDs, issue ballots, answer questions and ensure that election
day is run smoothly.
• Members of the public apply to be Election Inspectors and are paid for their
service. They are appointed by the local Election Commission and are required to
attend a training before they can work an election.
• Students inspectors age 16 & 17 can work elections, but anyone over 18 must be
a registered voter in the State of MI.
• We need Election Inspectors from both major parties to run a precinct and
inspectors MUST declare a party to be able to work.
6. Step 5: Preparing for Election Day
• Once the ballots are ready, the Clerk downloads the election information
to the tabulator.
• The tabulator is then sealed with a code that is tracked to ensure it was not
• The seal numbers are verified at the Public Accuracy test and on election
7. Step 6: Ballot Testing and Public Accuracy Testing
• Before the election, clerks perform a
public accuracy test.
• Predetermined ballots are run through
the tabulators to see if they’re
accurately counting ballots.
• The results are sent to the County so
they can also verify the results.
• The Test is open for the public to watch.
8. Step 7: Election Day
At the Polls
• Polls open at 7 AM and close at 8 PM.
• Each voter is assigned a Voter I.D. and Ballot
• If a voter who was sent an Absentee Ballot
arrives at their polling location, they’re
required to sign an affidavit or turn in their
Absent Voter Ballot before voting.
• The Clerk also verifies that the ballot has not
been returned and rejects it in QVF so it
cannot be counted. Then a voter can be
issued a ballot in the precinct.
• Anyone in line by 8 PM is eligible to vote.
At the Clerk’s Office
• Absentee Ballots are due by 8 PM on
• You can register to vote and be issued
an AV ballot or vote in the precincts.
If you are already registered to vote,
you cannot be issued an AV ballot on
9. Step 8: After the Polls close
• Election Inspectors declare that the polls are closed and shut down the polling
station according to state standards.
• Election Inspectors make sure that the number of actual voters equals the
number of voters in the Poll Book.
• They then generate 4 copies of the totals tape, verify all write-in votes have been
tallied in the poll book and take them to their local Clerk.
• A Democrat and a Republican from each precinct together bring the items to the
Township Receiving Board to verify all items are returned and balanced.
• Once all precincts have been received by the Receiving Board, the Clerk staff bring
closing documentation to the County Receiving Board for further verification.
10. Step 9: The Board of Canvassers
• Once all the Jurisdictions in the County have been received by the County
Receiving Board, the Board of Canvassers reviews each jurisdiction’s
• The Board of Canvassers officially certifies the election and declare the