Voting on the Operating Millage has started!
Get 2 to Vote encourages voting in Feb. 27 election
While the presidential primary is not officially until Feb. 27, voters can already start casting absentee ballots. Those ballots include a question asking voters to renew an Operating Millage for Dearborn Public Schools and another regarding continued funding for Henry Ford College.
More than 10,000 Dearborn citizens cast absentee ballots in the last presidential election, meaning more than one-third of voters in that election voted absentee. The 2020 election was unique coming both in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and also as the first presidential election after Michigan voters approved universal absentee voting.
The 2024 presidential primary will be the first where Michigan voters can also use Early Voting to cast ballots for nine days before the election at the designated early polling site for their city.
With absentee ballots now available, Dearborn Schools is launching a Get 2 to Vote election drive. Get 2 to Vote encourages district families and staff to get two other people to also commit to voting in the Feb. 27 election, whether they vote before or on that day. With two local issues on the ballot, voters are strongly encouraged to go vote on those important local questions even if they do not wish to participate in the presidential primary.
Dearborn Public Schools is asking voters to renew an Operating Millage that provides $41 million, or 16 percent, of the district’s general fund revenue. This money is used for everyday operating expenses such as staffing, curriculum materials, classroom supplies, utilities, busing, athletics and more. The ballot will ask voters to renew the millages for both homeowners and non-homestead properties. Homeowners would see their maximum tax rate fall from 6.17 mills to a maximum of 4 mills. For the current year the district only collected 2.05 mills. The tax rate for non-homestead properties such as businesses and rentals would remain at 18 mills. The state counts the 18 mills from businesses as part of the district’s per pupil funding and deducts that amount from what the district receives from state coffers. If the Operating Millage is not renewed, the state will continue to deduct that $34 million from what it provides for the district. Failing to renew the Operating Millage would mean a $2,030 per student reduction from the district’s current $9,921 per pupil funding. That would leave Dearborn Public Schools with one of the lowest per pupil revenues in the state.
Henry Ford College is also asking voters to reapprove 4 mills of taxes. The question combines into one vote a 1 mill tax that expires this year and 3 mills that expire next year. That revenue covers 20 percent of the college’s operating costs. More information is available on the college’s website.
Dearborn Public Schools and the Henry Ford College District cover almost all of Dearborn and the section of Dearborn Heights northeast of Telegraph Road and Ford Road.
To assist citizens interested in voting, the district has compiled the following information for would-be voters. To learn more about any of these topics or to see if you are registered to vote, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center.
Presidential vote not required
Because the Feb. 27 election is a presidential primary, those going to vote will be asked if they want a ballot for the Republican or Democrat primary. Which party a person selects is public record, but picking a ballot does not make the voter a member of that party. The voter will be asked again which ballot they want during the next presidential primary. Those who do not wish to participate in the presidential primary can also ask for a nonpartisan ballot, which will allow them to vote only on local issues including the Dearborn Public Schools Operating Millage Renewal and the Henry Ford College millage question. Voters, of course, also can select a party ballot but still not cast a vote for any presidential candidate or opt to vote “uncommitted” under presidential candidate.
Voting before Feb. 27
For the first time, local voters will have two ways they can cast their ballots before the Feb. 27 primary.
Absentee voting will start in late January as city clerks begin mailing absentee ballots to those who requested them. To receive an absentee ballot, a person must complete an Absentee Ballot Request Form. This request can be completed online or via a paper form submitted to your local city clerk’s office via mail or in person. Those who plan to vote absentee and then mail the ballot back should drop the ballot in the mail at least two weeks before the election. Completed absentee ballots also can be submitted in person via designated drop boxes or at the clerk’s office until polls close at 8 p.m. on Feb. 27. If a voter requested an absentee ballot and then decides to vote in person on Feb. 27, the person should bring the absentee ballot with them to the poll.
For those participating in the Get 2 to Vote election campaign, remember that not everyone can return a completed absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can only be returned by the person voting, an immediate family member, or someone living with the voter.
Would-be absentee voters can visit their city clerk’s office to complete an Absentee Ballot Request Form, pick up their ballot, and complete and submit the ballot all in one visit. However, those planning to do so should be aware that there may be a substantial wait as clerk offices deal with a deluge of election work.
The 2024 election cycle is only the second presidential election since absentee ballots became available to all Michigan voters. This year marks the first time Michigan voters can also take advantage of early voting.
Early voting is like regular voting, except up to nine days earlier. No special request form is required and nothing is sent through the mail. Registered voters simply show up at their city’s early voting location during voting hours, preferably with a driver’s license or other official photo ID. Early voting starts nine days before the election, which for this year means those polls will open Feb. 17. Dearborn voters can visit the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center from Feb. 17 through Feb. 25 from 9 am until 5 pm. This is the only early voting location for Dearborn. Dearborn Heights residents will be able to vote early at the Canfield Community Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Feb. 17 through Feb. 25.
Schools will not be used for early voting locations and will continue to have class on those days. Dearborn Public Schools will not have classes on Feb. 27 as many of the schools are also used as public polling locations on election day.
Registering to vote
Michigan law also now allows people to register to vote up until election day; however doing so well before the election is strongly encouraged. To register to vote, a person must be at least 18 years of age and a United States citizen. To see if you are registered to vote and to learn more about how to register, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center. Many adults opt to automatically register to vote when they get their Michigan driver’s license.