Confusion and changes ahead of the Michigan Primaries

NOW: Confusion and changes ahead of the Michigan Primaries

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich.-- The Michigan presidential primary was typically held on the second Tuesday of March, but starting this year, that date has moved up to Tuesday, Feb. 27.

ABC57 spoke to Berrien County voters, getting a mixed bag of people who voted early, plan to vote in the formal primary election, and some who did not know there was an election this week. There was a lot of confusion, and in some cases, apathy.

"I know they moved the primaries up. A lot of people are not even aware of the new date, and it's kind of thrown our state off a little bit," said voter Teresa Espino.

Chad Kinsella, associate professor of political science at Ball State University, explained why the Democratic Party decided to change its primary calendar

"Iowa was always the first one out of the gate,” he said, with New Hampshire going second.

But Democrats argue, Kinsella said, “they don’t represent the United States very well, in terms of demographically.”

So, they are moving more diverse states like Michigan ahead in the calendar, meaning Michigan voters must cast their ballot earlier than what they may be used to.

The earlier primary won’t make much of a difference in this year’s election, Kinsella said, with a likely rematch between President Biden and former President Trump-- but it could be consequential in a future election.

"This will give Michigan voters a chance to really have a say, and who’s going to be the presidential candidate moving forward,” Kinsella said.

Moving the date up, though, prompted Michigan Republicans to plan for a hybrid nomination model, holding a nominating convention following the Tuesday primaries— on Saturday, March 2— but it's invite-only for party loyalists. The primary will determine 16 of the state's 55 delegates, and the caucus-style convention will determine the other 39.

"It is confusing and I hope people will pay attention," Espino said. "I think we just need to set the rules and keep to them, and quit changing what they're doing, and that would stop the confusion."

Tuesday's primary ballot will have presidential nominees and local measures like millage proposals. No other office besides president will be voted on.

Find your polling place or check your Michigan voter registration here:

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