There’s a lot on the line in Michigan this year. As part of The ‘Gander Newsroom’s mission to inform and empower voters, we’ve put together a resource that you can easily bookmark and return to as you make plans for voting in Michigan’s Nov. 8 General Election.
Table of Contents
- Voter Basics
- What District Am I In?
- Important Dates & Deadlines
- How Do I Vote?
- What Are My Voting Rights? What Are My Rights at the Polls?
- What’s On the Ballot?
Am I registered to vote?
- Find out right here.
- Register online here, or in-person at your local city or township clerk’s office. Find your office here.
- What do I need to register?
Proof of your age and your Michigan residency. Acceptable documents can include a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, current utility bills, a current bank statement that shows your address, a recent paycheck, or a document you’ve received from the government that shows your address. You do not need a photo ID – if you don’t have one, you’ll be asked to sign a form.
What if I’m homeless?
If you don’t have an address, you can still register to vote. Here’s how:
- If you have a state ID or driver’s license and access to the internet, you can register online here – but only until 14 days before an election. If there are fewer than 14 days before an election, you must register in person. Bring your ID to your city or township clerk’s office any time before 8 p.m. on Election Day.
- If you don’t have a state ID or driver’s license, you can still register to vote at your city or township clerk’s office prior to 14 days before an election. You can list your address as a street corner, shelter, park, or any other place you usually stay as your address. You can also list any place that will accept mail for you – including a shelter, outreach center, advocacy organization, or an individual. You’ll need to bring a letter from a shelter, church, or public assistance agency that states your name and that you live in Michigan.
- If someone tells you that you can’t register to vote or you can’t vote because you’re homeless, contact the ACLU or the Secretary of State to report it. The number for the Michigan ACLU is 313-578-6800. The number for the Secretary of State’s office is 888-SOS-MICH.
Who can vote in Michigan’s elections?
US citizens who:
- Have been a resident of a city or township in Michigan for at least 30 days by Election Day, even if they are homeless (see above)
- Are 18 years old by Election Day
- Are not currently serving a jail or prison sentence
Note: Michiganders convicted of crimes can still register and vote if they are in jail but have not yet been sentenced, as well as if they’re on probation or parole. Those who have been sentenced to serve outside of a jail or prison can vote.
Remember: Anyone who is registered to vote by the time polls close on Election Day has the right to cast their ballot. Anyone who is in line by the time polls close on Election Day has the right to cast their ballot.
I’m a student. Do I vote on campus or do I have to head back home?
Students from Michigan who attend school in Michigan can register to vote at either their school or home addresses. Students from Michigan who attend school in another state can still register to vote at their home address in Michigan. Students who are not from Michigan but attend school in Michigan can also register to vote at their school addresses in Michigan.
Can I get a ballot in my language?
Certain areas that have a large number of non-English speaking residents have election materials available in languages like Spanish and Bengali. If those ballots aren’t available in your area, you have a right to receive assistance from anyone you choose—just as long as that person isn’t your employer, an agent of your employer or acting on behalf of your labor union.
What District Am I In?
What are districts?
Like every state, Michigan has two US senators. Every state is also divided into congressional districts – Michigan has 14 – each of which is represented by a member of the US House of Representatives.
For our state government, Michigan is divided into even more districts – that allows local people to represent local interests.
State House: Here’s a map to find which district you live in for the state’s House of Representatives (there are 110; each district has one representative). In case it’s helpful to know, the House map is named the “Hickory” map.
State Senate: Here’s a map to find which district you live in for the state’s Senate (there are 38; each district has one senator). In case it’s helpful to know, the Senate map is named the “Linden” map.
Click here to view a sample ballot and other information about voting in your district.
Important Dates & Deadlines
Oct. 24: Last day to register online to vote.
Return absentee ballot by mail to avoid mailing delays.
Nov. 4: Request an absentee ballot online or by mail by 5 p.m., but it’s strongly recommended that you do this before Oct. 18 to avoid mailing delays.
Nov. 7: Vote early at your clerk’s office before 4 p.m.
Nov. 8: General Election Day
You can register to vote in person at your clerk’s office before 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Return absentee ballot to a drop box or local clerk’s office in person by 8 p.m.
How Do I Vote?
How do I vote early?
All registered voters can vote before Election Day using absentee ballots, which have been available to all voters in Michigan without any excuse or reason required for them to be used.
Residents can visit their city or township clerk’s office before Election Day to fill out an application for an absentee ballot and turn it in on the spot—or just as long as it’s by 4 p.m. the day before the election. For this year’s general election, the early voting deadline is 4 p.m. on Nov. 7.
Only voters and members of their immediate families can drop off ballots. City and township clerks can also be contacted to come retrieve completed ballots upon request as a last resort.
Even those on the permanent absentee voter list must request a ballot for each election. You can track the status of your absentee ballot (including its receipt) online at michigan.gov/vote.
I changed my mind on a candidate: Can I change my vote?
As long as it’s before Election Day, residents can call or visit their city or township clerks’ offices to cancel their absentee ballots and request a new one. Residents can also surrender their existing absentee ballots at polling places on Election Day, and then cast a new vote in person.
How do I vote on Election Day?
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Residents can cast their votes past 8 p.m. — just as long as they’re in line by at least 8 p.m. Specific polling places can be located online. Those who have not registered to vote can still get registered and cast a ballot on Election Day.
Voters do not need photo ID to cast their ballot—though it may speed up the process. Those without them can sign a simple form and vote. A small number of first-time voters who registered through the mail or a voter registration drive may also need to provide additional documentation—including any of the documents listed above that are needed to register.
Those with unused absentee ballots can surrender them and vote in person on Election Day.
Residents also have a right to request an accessible voting machine and request assistance from election officials—including those who are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write. Voters can also bring anyone they wish to help them vote, just as long as that person providing assistance isn’t also their employer, or an agent of their employer or their labor union.
What if I run into problems on Election Day?
Residents who have issues with anyone trying to intimidate or harass them at the polls have been encouraged to tell poll workers immediately. If the poll workers are the problem, then residents should contact their city or township clerk to address the issue. If that still doesn’t work, a nonpartisan election hotline is also designed to field complaints at 866-OUR-VOTE.
Someone may challenge your right to vote. If so, answer their questions and then vote. If you make a mistake on your ballot, you are entitled to another one if it hasn’t yet been tabulated.
What Are My Voting Rights? What Are My Rights at the Polls?
You have a right to…
- cast a ballot if you are a registered voter.
- vote if you are in line when the polls close.
- cast a secret ballot without anyone bothering you or telling you how to vote.
- get a new ballot if you have made a mistake, as long as you still have your old ballot. Ask an election official at your polling center for help.
- get a paper ballot if a voting machine is down.
- get help voting and casting your ballot.
- vote in peace, without interruption, interference, or intimidation. (That is a crime.)
- turn in your completed vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place in the county where you are registered to vote.
- get election materials in a language other than English, if enough people in your voting precinct need a ballot in that language.
- ask questions about election procedures, and watch the election process. You can ask questions of the precinct board and elections officials regarding election procedures. If the person you ask doesn’t know the answer, they must direct you to someone who can help. However, if persistent questioning disrupts the execution of their duties, the board or election officials are permitted to stop responding to questions. You do not have the right to ask voters questions.
- report illegal or fraudulent activity to a local elections official or to the Secretary of State’s office. This includes anything happening in the polling place that is a crime, or if you believe someone is not who they say they are. Reporting is confidential. Call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE, or report to your local officials. Their offices will be open on Election Day.
You do NOT have a right to…
- ask voters questions.
- intimidate or harass voters.
- falsely represent yourself as an elections official.
- display misinformation about voter fraud.
- spread misinformation about voter requirements.
- brandish a firearm, even if you have a license to carry a concealed weapon.
- carry a weapon for most reasons in most places used for elections.
What should voters be on alert for?
Here are some resources for learning about how to spot someone who wants to escalate a situation, and what to do about it:
- ASSESS: How to navigate the risk when someone is escalating
- Elected Officials’ De-Escalation Toolkit
- Overview of current voter intimidation and firearms laws in Michigan
What’s On the Ballot?
Click here to find out if you’re registered to vote, the dates of your upcoming elections, your polling location, your clerk’s information, your voting district, drop box locations, whether or not your clerk has received your absentee ballot, and to get a preview of what’s on your ballot. You’ll need to enter your first and last name, your birth month and year, and your zip code. One of our staff members did it and took a screenshot to show how much info is available – it’s pretty handy.