In this May 5, 2020 file photo, Angela Beauchamp fills out an absentee ballot at City Hall in Garden City, Mich. Michigan county and municipal clerks are finding it challenging to meet the needs of voters amid the coronavirus pandemic and following changes in 2018 when state voters approved of same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. The Secretary of State’s office reported this week that over 1.5 million requests for absentee ballots have been made ahead of the Aug. 4 primary, more than three-and-a-half times the number than at the same time ahead of the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
In this May 5, 2020 file photo, Angela Beauchamp fills out an absentee ballot at City Hall in Garden City, Mich. Michigan county and municipal clerks are finding it challenging to meet the needs of voters amid the coronavirus pandemic and following changes in 2018 when state voters approved of same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. The Secretary of State’s office reported this week that over 1.5 million requests for absentee ballots have been made ahead of the Aug. 4 primary, more than three-and-a-half times the number than at the same time ahead of the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

From registering to vote to submitting your absentee ballot, here’s everything you need to know to make your voice heard.

MICHIGAN — In the midst of a pandemic, Michigan’s May elections smashed turnout records. Now, the state is gearing up for August primaries in U.S. Senate, Congressional, and local races — and we’ve got the guide to make sure you’re among those voters taking advantage of recent moves to streamline vote-by-mail and empower Michiganders to make change. 

What Is the Primary Election on Aug. 4?

Michigan’s Aug. 4 election will decide which candidates will face off on Nov. 3 for: 

  • 1 of Michigan’s seats in the U.S. Senate
  • 14 seats in the U.S. House 
  •  All seats in the State House

It will also decide which candidates will compete for local seats throughout the state. 

Why Does Voting in the Primary Matter?

Voting in primary elections is how party platforms are influenced — it’s how voters can make sure we have the most choice in who we end up choosing between come general election time.

Dates and Deadlines

The primary election in Michigan will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. 

  • Voter registration: You can register to vote in Michigan in person any time before the election, including the day of the election. Mail-in and online voter registration applications must be received by Monday, July 20, 2020. 
  • Absentee ballot request: You must request an absentee ballot no later than Friday, July 31 at 5 p.m.

RELATED: Game Changer: You Can Now Request Your Michigan Absentee Ballot Online

  • Absentee ballot return: A Michigan court ruled this week that in order to be counted, ballots must be received by the time polls close on Election Day, so returned ballots must be received by August 4 at 8 p.m. Do you have a completed absentee ballot, but haven’t put it in the mail yet? Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recommends voters return absentee ballots directly to their local county clerks’ office or submit them via their local ballot drop box this close to the primary. A list of all drop box locations is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

How to Check Your Voter Registration

Check whether you’re already registered to vote online at the Secretary of State’s Michigan Voter Information Center under “Your Voter Information.” 

How to Register Online, by Mail, and in Person

If you’re not already registered to vote, there are multiple ways to get registered before Aug. 4. 

First, you must meet the following criteria to be eligible to register to vote in Michigan: 

  • Michigan resident at the time you register
  • Resident of your city or township for at least 30 days (when you vote)
  • United States citizen
  • At least 18 years of age (when you vote)
  • Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison

Remember, Michiganders can register to vote online or by mail through Monday, July 20, 2020. 

To register online, visit the Secretary of State’s Michigan Online Voter Registration System now.

To register by mail, download and complete this voter registration application, then mail or deliver the completed application directly to your city or township clerk. Find your city or township clerk’s address here.

You can register to vote at your local clerk’s office in person through Election Day, but you must show proof of where you live. Documents must have your name and current address. You can show a digital copy of any document. Acceptable documents include:

  • Michigan driver’s license or State ID card
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck or government check
  • Other government document

After registering, you can vote an absent voter ballot at the clerk’s office or you can vote at your polling place on Election Day.

How to Request an Absentee Ballot

Gov. Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have made it a mission to get an absentee ballot application in the hands of every Michigan voter this election season, but if one hasn’t made it your way yet, here’s how to get one. 

You can request an absent voter ballot by completing an online application here

You can also download and complete this absent voter ballot application, then mail, email, or deliver it in person to your local clerk. 

Remember, returned ballots must be received by August 4 at 8 p.m. to be counted, so follow Secretary Benson’s advice and return it directly to your local clerk or submit it to your local ballot drop box. A list of all drop box locations is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

What Will My Ballot Look Like?

View ballots by precinct here.

Where to Research Candidates

Here’s a list of Michigan state primary candidates for 2020 from the Secretary of State. 

The SOS website also lists election-related informational links, including county websites with information on local elections.

How to Vote in Person on Election Day

All eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason, and the Secretary of State encourages Michiganders to consider voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“As we collectively endure this moment of great uncertainty, caused by a global pandemic that has taken the lives of 100,000 Americans and many more worldwide, it is within both my authority and my responsibility as Michigan’s chief election officer to ensure every voter knows that they do not need to risk their health to cast a ballot,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified to the U.S. House of Representatives June 3. 

But if voting in person during Michigan’s primaries is the only option that works for you, here’s how to do it as safely as possible: 

Polls will be open for voters on Aug. 4 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Find your polling place here. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds the public to observe these safety guidelines: 

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Use online services when available.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
  • Use hand sanitizer after leaving public spaces.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.