how to vote in the michigan primary

The Michigan Presidential primary is this Tuesday. As most of you know, it’s been made a dreadful mess by Debbie Dingel and company, who chose to violate Democratic Party rules by moving it up, before February 5. (Party rules stipulate that only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina can have primaries prior to that date.) If their gamble had worked, it would have admittedly been a good thing for our struggling state — the candidates would have spent a lot of time here, getting to know us, hearing our concerns, and making promises that could one day translate to actual policy. Unfortunately, however, the Democratic National Committee didn’t go for the idea. They said that, because of our blatant disregard of the established rules, they wouldn’t be allowing our Democratic delegates to vote at the national convention, essentially making us irrelevant in the process altogether. (There’s a chance that they’ll back down from this, as I understand it, but it’s by no means a given.) What’s more, Obama and Edwards, once Michigan had made its gambit, requested that their names be removed from the ballot in order to appease angered Democrats outside of Michigan. So, of the three major contenders for the Democratic nomination, only Hillary Clinton is listed.

Here’s the official word from the Washtenaw Dems:

The 2008 Michigan Primary will be on Tuesday, January 15th. Voters registered before December 17, 2007 are eligible to vote.

You will cast your vote in your usual polling place. If you need information, please go to the Washtenaw Votes website. At the polling place you will be asked for identification in order to vote, but if you do not have ID, you will be asked to sign an affidavit, and are still eligible to vote.

On this Democratic primary ballot the candidates are: Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd (has withdrawn from race), Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich. There are also lines for uncommitted and for write-in candidates. If you want to vote for Barack Obama or John Edwards you must vote the “UNCOMMITTED” line! NO WRITE-IN VOTES WILL BE COUNTED FOR ANY CANDIDATES!

If “uncommitted” gets at least 15% of the vote, there will be one or more delegates elected at the Congressional District Convention which will take place on March 29th, 2008. In order to be eligible to vote at the Congressional District Convention, you must be a member of the Michigan Democratic Party. To join, go to Michigan Dems dotcom and then to the membership tab. If you want to be eligible to influence who is elected as uncommitted delegates, join the MDP and attend your Congressional District Convention!

So, if you don’t want to vote for Hillary, Kucinich, or Gravel, you can vote “undecided.” Our friend Robert, who, like me, supports Edwards, has been encouraging me to vote that way. Here’s a recent note from him, in which he explains his reasoning:

I’m trying to put together a united front for “Uncommitted” in Michigan. I’d like to see if we can get people out on January 15th in a mass protest vote. A vote for “Uncommitted” is a vote against the status quo. It’s a vote against government waste (this empty primary is costing the Michigan taxpayer $10,000,000!) It’s a vote which would tell the cynical politicians and political strategists that we want to speak for ourselves, and we don’t need them telling us what we want and feel. It’s a vote to send the message that we want our government back, and we want our country back.

This fouled-up primary represents perfectly the stupidity, waste and cynicism of the political leadership we’ve been getting over the past several years. If we want to, we can take this otherwise meaningless primary and turn it into a public statement by the people. We have to spread the word that this primary vote in Michigan is an opportunity for the people of our state to voice a resounding “NO” to the politicians’ question, “Do we want to continue with business as usual?”

For years there have been efforts to place “None Of The Above” as one of the choices on our election ballots. those efforts are always blocked. They’re blocked because the politicians fear the embarrassment of seeing clearly what the voters really think of them. I suspect that, if voters had that option, they would vote “None Of The Above” in election after election, because of the gross dissatisfaction we are all feeling with the kind of leadership we have been getting lately…

There also, of course, is a strategic reason for doing so. If “uncommitted” draws more than 15% of the vote, uncommitted delegates will be sent to the convention, and, assuming the national Dems chose to back down and accept votes from the Michigan contingent, these delegates could then align themselves at that point. Certainly a lot of our neighbors are leaning this way. There is, however, another option being discussed. My friend Kerri was the first to tell me about the idea, which was hatched by the folks at the Daily Kos. Here’s the idea in a nutshell – Michigan Democrats, not able to vote for their preferred candidate, should instead vote in the Republican primary for Mitt Romney. (See also here, here, and here.) Here’s a quote from Kos:

…We’re pushing Romney because at the end of the day, Romney is spending a lot of money on ads trashing his fellow Republicans. We want more of that money spent trashing his fellow Republicans. We want an unsettled field with Republicans fragmented and fighting. We want the theocons (Huckabee), the neocons (McCain), and the corportate cons (Romney) to maintain viable top-tier candidates in the race for as long as possible, since it fuels their civil war. Heck, if we truly hit the jackpot, we might even get a brokered GOP convention…

So, I guess it comes down to what you think the Democratic Party will do. If you think they’ll end up seating our delegates, then I can see the logic in voting “undecided.” If, however, you think that they won’t, then why not cast a vote for a Republican? From what I understand, Mitt’s most likely out of the race if he loses here in Michigan. So, your vote really could make a difference… I don’t know how I’ll vote yet, but I think I’m leaning toward “undecided.” I like the idea of using my vote strategically to fuck with the Republicans, but I just don’t think that when it came time to actually do it that I could pull the lever. I just know that if I did, Romney would be elected our next President.

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  1. John on Forest
    Posted January 13, 2008 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, this sounds a lot like the question I was asking a on MM yesterday.

    I had the additional question of asking what Republican candidate might be at least electable but still be possibly nominated, thinking that might be the one to vote for, rather than Romney, unless Romney was the least electable.

    Or perhaps I’ll just vote for the Republican I could live with the easiest if the Democrats lose in the general.

  2. Posted January 14, 2008 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I’m raiding and voting for Ron Paul because he’s an embarrassment to Republicans.

  3. Posted January 14, 2008 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    It looks like uncommitted will easily reach 15 percent, and maybe as high as 30. I really like Robert’s reasoning on this one. But regardless, it just seems like an irresponsible gamble (as far as changing the date) – didn’t they get feelers out there as to what would happen if they did try to change it before actually doing it and getting the response they did? If all states just changed their dates for various reasons, against the established dem party regulations, things would be crazy. So it sucks and it’s frustrating, but I can understand why Clinton and Obama would withdraw here.

  4. Kirk
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    In 1976 Reagan ran against Ford for the Republican nomination and came pretty close to beating him. Some Michigan Democrats encouraged people to vote for Reagan to cause trouble for Ford. This was being discussed on the local news and I remember one woman being interviewed who said, “I can’t vote for Reagan! If he got the nomination he could actually become President!”

    That’s how I feel about voting for Romney.

  5. KT
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    The important thing is that Obama and Edwards supporters don’t just stay home. That’s the main message here.

  6. KT
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I heard on the way in to work this morning that McCain was polling at 27% and Romney was at 26%. They’re neck and neck.

  7. Mike
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I just don’t get it. Even if it is a brokered convention, the Republicans will still have someone running for president that might end up being president. If you do have to vote for a Republican candidate, wouldn’t you rather it be someone who is against the war, opposes a national ban on abortion and gay rights, and isn’t loaded down with corporate money? Yeah, Romney runs some negative ads, but just thinks about the implosion in the neo, theo, and corporate con movements if someone like that won.

    (By the way, I’m talking about Ron Paul)

  8. Posted January 14, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Vote Uncommitted, even if you think our delegation won’t be seated. It’s all about the media spin.

    Either “Hillary Wins Michigan, Takes Commanding Lead of Race” or “Michigan Picks Uncommitted Over Hillary.”

    That’s what this primary is about.

  9. Jim
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve got to vote ‘uncommitted,’ but this video makes a great case for Romney:

  10. Suzie
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    It sounds like a very bad idea to vote for a Republican you hate, whatever the sneaky tactics are that you have. If that person is ultimately elected, you voted them in.

    I’m considering voting for a Republican I could deal with.

  11. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Whatever message I’d like to send to the Republicans, truth is, I’d support Edwards or Obama and would rather send a message to State Dems that a) I don’t support Hillary and b) they aren’t gonna get away with gifting-wrapping our delegates for their pre-selected candidate by political maneuvering.

    I baffled that Hillary isn’t catching more media heat for not withdrawing, too. She’s the most party-connected candidate in the race but apparently lacks the respect for party rules that Edwards/Obama claim. The whole thing smells like a fix.


  12. Andy C
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I you vote uncommitted and we do get delegates, who’s to say those delegates won’t go to Hillary? What if we vote for Kucinich? If he drops out his delegates won’t give their votes to Hillary.

    I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet.

  13. Linda
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Granholm’s letter to constituents today doesn’t even acknowledge the mess:

    Dear friends,

    Tomorrow, Michigan will play a critical role in choosing the next President of the United States. The decision to move our primary to January 15th has put us in the national spotlight and, now, all eyes are on Michigan as we cast our votes for presidential nominees. With so much attention being given to our state, this is an opportunity for us to send a message to the nation that we are ready for a change in the White House and we’re going to deliver that message through our votes.

    Click here to visit and find your polling location.

    There is, perhaps, no other state who has more invested in this presidential election than Michigan. Our economy has been ravaged by the unfair trade policies of an administration that has turned a blind eye to our manufacturing sector. We have seen jobs shipped overseas as our president fails to enforce the trade pacts negotiated with our trading partners. And our manufacturers and small businesses have struggled to compete as the cost of health care rises and employers are left to foot the bill.

    Tomorrow, we can take the first step to create real change in the White House. Click here for more information on getting your friends and family out to vote.

    We’ve waited seven long years to see a change in the status quo in Washington. Tomorrow, it is finally our turn to raise up and cast our votes for a new direction for America. No matter what political party you belong to or what candidate you support, exercise your right as an American citizen to get out and vote. Michigan’s future depends on it.

    Visit right now to find out where to vote.


    Jennifer Granholm

    PS – I will be on CNN tonight talking about Michigan’s important role in this presidential nominating process. Click here to find out more.

  14. Suzie
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Linda – Yes, no acknowledgment whatsoever – but to find out why, simply click through on Granholm’s message, and you’ll get information about how to support Hillary.

  15. Jim
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    From the County Democratic Party:
    “If “uncommitted” gets at least 15% of the vote, there will be one or more delegates elected at the Congressional District Convention which will take place on March 29th, 2008. In order to be eligible to vote at the Congressional District Convention, you must be a member of the Michigan Democratic Party. To join, go to and then to the membership tab. If you want to be eligible to influence who is elected as uncommitted delegates, join the MDP and attend your Congressional District Convention!”

  16. John on Forest
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Suzie, I’m with you, and Mark said it too, even though he was considering casting his vote for Mitt, whom Mark said he’d hate to see elected in the general election: I’d rather support a republican I can live with, than one I’d rather not live with.

    Cross from Democratic ticket to Republican to vote for Ron Paul??? That can hardly send any kind of message. He won’t get nominated. The Democratic vote for Paul won’t significantly change the percentage Paul would get. So, therefore no message to anyone will be sent. I think, then that voting for Ron Paul is a waste of one’s vote.

    I don’t think an uncommitted vote sends much of a message either. Adding up the support for Edwards and Obama obviously would be more than the votes for Clinton. The only message an uncommitted vote sends is that we (Michigan) don’t like the stance the NDP took on our primary. A better message would be sent to the NDP if a significant number of Democrats voted Republican in stead.

    I’m 95% sure I’m going to vote for McCain, the republican I could live with best if he made it into the White House.

  17. Pamela
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Lest we forget–the primary is the time to vote our heart and conscience. We can pick the lesser of two evils in November.
    I’m voting for Kucinich. A large vote for him would send the Democrat machine to the library to study our roots and progressive issues!

  18. larry
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Got to buy Pamela’s statement “A large vote for him would send the Democrat machine to the library to study our roots and progressive issues!”. The DNC is trying to throw the election. 2000 dems lost it in Florida, 2004 Ohio did us in. Now in 2008 Michigan-a state with a large republician base-they want to disinfranchise us democrates. What are they Republicians? lets vote for Dennis at least he came here and campained

  19. Posted January 15, 2008 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    I think “None of the Above (NOTA)” on the ballot after each list of candidates is a wonderful idea.

    Clearly, all legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent. Just as voting “NO” on ballot questions allows you to withhold consent, NOTA on the ballot allows voters to withhold their consent from an election to office.

    If NOTA get more votes than any candidate for an office, then a new election with new candidates is held.

    Also, NOTA on the ballot means candidates running unopposed, as so many do, would have to get voter consent to be elected.

    In the meantime, if you do not like any candidate and would otherwise not vote, write-in “None of the Above” to send a clear message.

    See: for additional information.

  20. Stella
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    My heart is rendered
    meaningless by the machine.
    I vote Kucinich.

  21. Disenfranchised
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Why would anyone vote for Obama or Edwards by voting uncommitted? THEY are the ones who took their names off the ballot. Furthermore, niether of them have campaigned in Michigan. Clinton has not campaigned in Michigan either and is taking huge advantage of the situation by still having her name on the ballot.

    I’m with Pamela. Kucinich at leaast has campaigned in Michigan and shown that he is interested in Michigan’s issues.

    If you are Democrat, vote for Kucinich.

  22. Mike
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I Vote for RON PAUL!!! No WAR, No Taxes, Sound Money, Small Government, and More Freedom!!! He has the voting record to prove it! Google Ron Paul!

  23. Joe
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I am wondering, if you vote for a Republican in the primary, does that preclude you from voting Democratic in the actual election? I would like to support McCain, but in the event that he does not receive the nomination, my second option is Democratic. So far I have not been able to find an answer to this question anywhere.

  24. Kirk
    Posted January 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Which primary you vote in has no effect on who you are allowed to vote for in the actual election. However, if you vote in the Democratic primary, your name and address will be sent to the Michigan Dems and if you vote in the Republican primary, your name and address are sent to the Michgian GOP. They don’t know who you voted for, only which primary you voted in. This means you may start getting unwelcome mail but that is probably all.

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