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Less than a month from Election Day: Polling, ballot proposals and making a voting plan

October 19, 2022
<p>People enter East Lansing City Hall on Aug. 2, 2022, voting day for the Michigan primary elections.</p>

People enter East Lansing City Hall on Aug. 2, 2022, voting day for the Michigan primary elections.

Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

The 2022 midterm elections are now less than a month away. Here’s an update on key races and issues in Michigan, along with helpful information on making sure you’re geared up to vote on Nov. 8. 

Michigan’s race for governor

The gap between gubernatorial candidates Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon is beginning to tighten as the campaign season heads into its final weeks. Polling released last week indicated that Whitmer sits at a still-comfortable 11 points ahead of Dixon, at 49% and 38%, respectively. This is a decrease in Whitmer’s lead, which was clocked at 16 points in mid-September. 

Whitmer has steadily outperformed Dixon in fundraising, pulling in over $26 million from January to August while Dixon struggled to hit $2.5 million in the same time period. At the end of September, the Cook Political Report, an election analyst organization, changed its “Lean Democratic” classification for the Michigan gubernatorial race to “Likely Democratic,” a considerable shift for a state that was originally viewed as a toss-up between parties at the state level. 

The candidates participated in the first of two televised debates on Oct. 14 in Grand Rapids, sparring on several key issues facing voters in November. It marked the first time in Michigan’s history that two female candidates seeking the governor’s office appeared side-by-side for a debate.

Dixon acknowledged in her opening remarks that the debate was likely many Michiganders’ first time seeing her, alluding to issues her campaign has had with name recognition that often come with first-time political candidates. Whitmer emphasized her record on issues like abortion rights and bipartisan cooperation, while Dixon doubled down on past statements questioning Whitmer’s efficiency and transparency in office. 

Some media members and voters expressed concern that the debate was not televised in the Detroit media market – the state’s largest viewer area. The lack of coverage in a critical area of the state could be detrimental to both candidates in making their stances heard, but they’ll have another chance next week in Rochester.

The candidates will meet again for a second debate on Oct. 25, which is expected to be televised statewide. 

Attorney General and Secretary of State races

Democratic incumbents Dana Nessel and Jocelyn Benson are still leading in Michigan’s races for Attorney General and Secretary of State, respectively. They’re challenged by Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo, both of whom have been endorsed by former president Donald Trump. 

The Attorney General race between Nessel and DePerno is the most competitive out of the three top-of-ticket midterm battles, with recent polling placing Nessel only five points ahead of DePerno – just outside the margin of error. With the candidates at 43% and 39%, the race is close enough to be considered a statistical dead heat.

Nessel has fielded attacks from DePerno on her handling of lawsuits regarding Michigan’s votes in the 2020 presidential election. DePerno has stated on several occasions that he believes Michigan’s electoral votes were fraudulently certified in 2020, and has made election integrity a key issue of the Attorney General’s race.

Benson is currently maintaining a ten-point lead over her opponent, Karamo, a narrower margin than she held in September. Karamo has also leaned on falsehoods about the 2020 election in her campaign against Benson, saying that Benson’s championing of a voting rights ballot proposal in 2018 paved the way for fraud at the polls two years later. Karamo has called herself “a little MAGA warrior,” while Benson has argued that the future of democracy is on the line in Michigan. 

Like her counterparts Nessel and Whitmer, Benson continues to out-raise her opponent by millions, holding over $3 million in September to Karamo’s $184 thousand. 

Michigan’s ballot proposals

Three ballot proposals will be presented to Michigan voters on Nov. 8.

Proposal 1 deals with term limits, extending terms in the state legislature to 12 years in either or both houses. Polling from last week estimated that 68% of voters approve of the proposal.

Proposal 2 would institute several voting reforms, including an additional nine days of early voting and requiring the state to pay for the postage of absentee ballots. The proposal is polling at around 67% approval.

Proposal 3, arguably the most controversial of the issues on the ballot, would enshrine abortion rights in Michigan’s constitution. Among other things, the proposed amendment would ensure the right to abortions in the state, removing the issue from litigation that has been ongoing since the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court earlier this year. In early October polling, 60% said that they would vote "Yes" on the proposal, while 27% said they’d vote "No" and 7% were undecided. 

Proposal 3 has been the subject of several recent TV advertisements around the state, primarily funded by conservative interest groups who say it’s too extreme and confusing to be added to the state constitution. If it’s passed, Michigan will be one of several states to have a constitutional amendment protecting abortion. 

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The full text of each ballot proposal can be found here.

Making your voting plan

Michiganders have several options when it comes to casting their ballots. You can vote by mail or in-person as long as you’re registered. In-person registration can be done up until and on Election Day. For online or mail registration, the deadline is Oct. 24.

An easy way to get registered or to change your voter registration is the Michigan Voter Information Center

If you’re planning to vote by mail, make sure to request your absentee ballot by Nov. 4 online or Nov. 7 in-person. Absentee ballots include everything you need to vote, and must be returned by Election Day whether by mail or in-person. Michigan State University students should decide ahead of time whether they plan to vote in whatever district their permanent (non-MSU) residence is located, or if they’d like to vote in East Lansing. 

In-person polls open at 7 a.m. on Nov. 8 and remain open until 8 p.m. If you’re in line before polls close, you are entitled to vote even if you enter your polling place after 8 p.m.

Make sure you’re prepared with your driver’s license or another form of state-issued identification before you head to your polling place. If you’re voting in-person, you can find your polling place on your County Clerk’s web page.

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