Kalamazoo County on track to set record in number of registered voters

KALAMAZOO, MI -- More than 9,000 people have been added to the Kalamazoo County voter rolls since July, which means the county is well on track to setting a new record in the number of registered voters.

As of the end of the day Monday, the county had 192,409 registered voters, with another week to go before the Oct. 9 registration deadline for the Nov. 6 election, Kalamazoo County Clerk Tim Snow said.

Snow said there will be  additions and subtractions to the current list over the next week as new voters continue to register and people who have moved within the state change their registrations to reflect their new address.

In 2008, the last presidential election, Kalamazoo County had 191,717 registered voters, and 131,550 actually cast a ballot that November.

Because Kalamazoo County has a large college-age population, the number of registered voters can be misleading since the lists are bloated by students and others who have moved from the area but cannot legally be removed from rolls.

Snow said most of the new registrations in recent weeks are coming from drives being conducted at Western Michigan University.

"We're getting a bunch (of new registrations), especially from campus," Snow said. 

He said that volunteers working with ISAAC, a progressive coalition of Kalamazoo churches and advocacy groups, have been especially active in signing up new voters.

"They're doing an excellent job," Snow said, and have been especially conscientious about making sure the forms are filed out correctly and that the information has been verified.

People can easily check online at www.michigan.gov/vote to see if and where they are registered to vote. 

Those who still need to register can file out the paperwork at their county clerk or township/city clerk's office or download the registration form online from the Michigan Secretary of State website.

Although the form can be printed off online, it must be submitted by mail because the form needs a signature, Snow said.

He also cautioned that people who are registering to vote by mail must appear in person to obtain their ballot. That means, for instance, a college student who registers by mail must either pick up his or her absentee ballot in person from a local election clerk or vote on Election Day.  

There is an exception for people who hand deliver the registration form to a clerk's office, who are disabled or are eligible to vote through the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

People already registered to vote can obtain an absentee ballot by mail, and those ballots should be available by the end of this week, Snow said. 

The form to obtain an absentee ballot also is on the Secretary of State website.