“Anatomy of an Election” dissects voting in Michigan


Andie Balenger/NW

GO VOTE — Attendees at “Anatomy of an Election” pose questions to Marie Wicks, a Michigan election official, regarding the voting process. Northern Votes, a student organization, hosted “Anatomy of an Election” to explain the intricacies of casting a ballot on election day.

Andie Balenger

Students and community members gathered Wednesday night for “Anatomy of an Election,” a two-hour informational forum that discussed the ins and outs of voting mechanics in Michigan.

The event featured guest speakers, most of whom were Michigan election officials and clerks who have several years of experience coordinating elections at a local level. The officials discussed not only their roles on election day, but also provided an in-depth analysis of the tools that allow elections to be successful

“Our goal in doing this is to arm both ourselves and our communities with the knowledge and the vocabulary to have conversations about the processes that secure our elections,” Joanne Galloway, executive director of Center for Change Northern Michigan Advocacy, said at the event.

Election integrity has been a popular topic in the United States since the 2020 presidential election. County and city clerks across Michigan have been taking a variety of steps to ensure a sense of trust in their work from the public. 

One way this is being done is through public accuracy tests, which is an opportunity for locals to see how the computer programs used to track and tabulate the votes cast during an election meet legal requirements. Several of these accuracy tests will be taking place across the Upper Peninsula in the days leading up to the midterm election. 

“It is so important that people have an understanding of how elections really work,” Marie Wicks, Michigan election official, said. “All of the processes that we engage in as clerks, there are so many functions and responsibilities that are bipartisan in nature.”

“Anatomy of an Election,” was presented by Northern Votes, Center for Change, Michigan Rural Advocates and League of Women Voters of Marquette County.

Created in August 2022, Northern Votes is a non-partisan student organization with a mission to educate, advocate and engage students on campus to be civically active at all levels of our government. With the midterm election fast approaching, Kate Gunville, the president and founder of Northern Votes, has shifted her focus toward ensuring that students express their right to vote.

“I want people to know that voting and elections can be fun. It is not this sad, horrible thing,” Gunville said. “You get to use your voice. It is a great opportunity that we have.”

“Anatomy of an Election” is one event in a series of election awareness campaigns organized by Northern Votes. 

The student organization will be hosting the League of Women Voters of Marquette County in the Lodge on Oct. 17 for a voting awareness event. Students, faculty and members of the community are invited to get absentee ballot registration forms, create a voting plan and ask questions regarding the midterm election any time between 5 and 8 p.m.

Northern Votes will also be hosting a town hall to discuss the ballot initiatives that are specific Michigan ballots on Oct. 25. There are three proposals this year, covering candidate term limits and financial disclosure, voting rights and reproductive freedom for all. An exact time for the forum is yet to be released.

“It is important to be civically engaged no matter what sphere you are going into because it affects your life, whether you want it to or not,” Gunville said. “It is important to vote first and foremost, but any effort is great.”