City Clerk FAQ

  1. When may I register to vote?
  2. Do I have to register for each election?
  3. Where can I register to vote?
  4. May I register to vote by mail?
  5. Can I vote by absentee ballot?
  6. May I pick up an absentee ballot for my spouse?
  7. I have power of attorney for my spouse, can I pick up an absentee ballot for him/her?
  8. How do I get to vote absentee in every election?
  9. I’m on the permanent list, why didn’t I receive a ballot?
  10. Do you have any cemetery plots available?
  11. How do I purchase a plot?
  12. What does the cost cover?
  13. Why do I have to fill out a form to get information from the city?
  14. Why do I have to pay for information?
  15. Who needs a Solicitor’s Permit?
  16. How do I get permission to hold a block party?
  17. How do I get a liquor license for a bar or restaurant?
  18. How do I get a beer and wine liquor license?
  19. How do I get a packaged (SDD) liquor license?


1. When may I register to vote?
At any time, however, you must be registered at least 30 days before an election in order to vote in that election.

2. Do I have to register for each election?
No.  Registration is permanent as long as you continue to live in the city or township where you are registered.

3. Where can I register to vote?
You can register at any of the 178 Secretary of State Offices, the office of your local city or township clerk, the office of your county clerk and other state offices.

4. May I register to vote by mail?
Yes.  However, individuals who register to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election following their registration unless they are 60 years of age or older or have a recognized permanent disability.

5. Can I vote by absentee ballot?
If you are a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot if:

  • You are 60 years of age or older
  • You expect to be absent from the community in which you are registered to vote for the entire time the polls are open on election day
  • You are unable to go to the polls and vote without the assistance of another person
  • You cannot attend the polls because of your religious beliefs
  • You have been appointed as an election inspector in a precinct other than the one in which you reside.
  • You are confined in jail or prison awaiting arraignment or trial.

6. May I pick up an absentee ballot for my spouse?
No.  Election law allows for only the registered voter to obtain a ballot.  However, you may pick up an application for an absentee ballot for your spouse and you can deliver a voted ballot of any member of your immediate family or any a member of your household.

7. I have power of attorney for my spouse, can I pick up an absentee ballot for him/her?
No.  Election law specifically states that power of attorney does not apply for voting purposes.

8. How do I get to vote absentee in every election?
A voter may ask to be on the permanent absent voter list if they are over the age of 60 or permanently disabled.

9. I’m on the permanent list, why didn’t I receive a ballot?
Being on the permanent list does not guarantee a ballot for every election.  Rather, it means that you will automatically receive an application for an absentee ballot.  The application must be completed and returned to the Office of the City Clerk prior to receiving a ballot.

10. Do you have any cemetery plots available?
Yes, we have plots available in both Central and South Portage Cemetery. 

11. How do I purchase a plot?
Generally, we arrange an appointment with our cemetery sexton who will meet you at the cemetery with a detailed map to review available plots.  You will then make payment and complete the paperwork at the Office of the City Clerk.

12. What does the cost cover?
The cost covers not only the plot and/or opening and closing the grave, but helps in the perpetual care and maintenance of our cemeteries.

13. Why do I have to fill out a form to get information from the city?
By completing a Freedom of Information Act Request Form, we are better able to track and comply with your request.  We receive hundreds of requests annually and many require the cooperation and records of multiple departments.

14. Why do I have to pay for information?
The Freedom of Information Act allows for charging reasonable fees for providing information.  This helps to protect governments from excessive and/or frivolous requests for information.

15. Who needs a Solicitor’s Permit?
A Solicitor’s Permit is required for any individual or organization that takes orders for the sale of goods, wares and merchandise or other personal property for future delivery or for services to be furnished or performed in the future. 

16. How do I get permission to hold a block party?
To obtain permission to hold a neighborhood block party an individual must make a request in writing to the City Clerk.  The request must include the date of the event, timeframe, contact person and exact location of the event (including names of cross streets).  Additionally, the neighborhood must abide by the following: 

  • All streets to be blocked will be blocked so that emergency equipment such as police, fire, ambulance can enter if needed.
  • Abide by noise ordinance.
  • If alcoholic beverages are served, it must be done in compliance with local and state ordinances.
  • A time limit of 11:00 p.m. (This includes any tear down time)

Barricades are available upon request from the Department of Streets and Equipment at 329-4444. 

17. How do I get a liquor license for a bar or restaurant?
Liquor licenses must have a specific property associated with them before the application process may commence.  File an application with the City of Portage along with a fee of $850, and file an application with the State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission along with an inspection fee of $70.  There are other fees charged by the state depending on the type of license(s) being sought and services being provided.  The State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission has a listing of all Class C liquor licenses available in the County which is what you will need to serve alcohol in your place of business.  You may transfer a license into Portage from another municipality, and some licenses can be found in escrow.  Liquor licenses are a commodity and have a market price associated with them, and the State currently offers Class C Licenses for $20,000 if locating within a Downtown Development Authority (DDA).  Resort Licenses for qualified applicants are also available.  The only DDA in Portage is located generally along Westnedge Avenue north of I-94 and south of Kilgore Road.  You may call the Michigan State Liquor Control Commission for further information at 517/322-1400.

18. How do I get a beer and wine liquor license?
Liquor licenses must have a specific property associated with them before the application process may commence.  File an application with the City of Portage, and file an application with the State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission along with an inspection fee of $70.  There are other fees charged by the state depending on the type of license(s) being sought and services being provided.  The State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission has a listing of all Specially Designated Merchant (SDM) liquor licenses available in the County.  You may transfer a license into Portage from another municipality, and some licenses can be found in escrow.  Liquor licenses are a commodity and have a market price associated with them.  

19. How do I get a packaged (SDD) liquor license?
Liquor licenses must have a specific property associated with them before the application process may commence.  File an application with the City of Portage, and file an application with the State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission along with an inspection fee of $70.  There are other fees charged by the state depending on the type of license(s) being sought and services being provided.  The State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission has a listing of all Specially Designated Distributor (SDD) liquor licenses available in the County.  You may transfer a license into Portage from another municipality, and some licenses can be found in escrow.  Liquor licenses are a commodity and have a market price associated with them.