Explainer: How to Register (and Vote) on Election Day in Michigan

By The 'Gander Staff

August 18, 2022

MICHIGAN—All registered voters can vote in person on Election Day or vote early using absentee ballots, which are available to all Michigan voters without any excuse or reason required for them to be used—meaning it’s as easy as ever to make your voice heard in this year’s General Election.

But first:

Make sure you’re eligible to vote.

All US citizens can vote in the General Election, just as long as they’ve been a resident of a city or township in Michigan since at least Oct. 9—that’s 30 days before Election Day. You cannot vote if you’ve been convicted of a crime and are currently serving a sentence in jail or prison.


Make sure you’re registered to vote.

Maybe you already are registered to vote. Find out right here. If not, you can register online here, or in-person at your local city or township clerk’s office. Find your local 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 the 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 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.

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.


Vote early.

Michiganders can visit their city or township clerk’s office through 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 8 p.m. on Election Day. General Election absentee ballots must be made available to voters by Sept. 29. 

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 whether it was received) online here

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. 

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.

Want to keep it old school?

Vote on Election Day

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 other rights on Election Day?

You have a right to…

  • cast a secret ballot without anyone bothering you or telling you how to vote.
  • 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.)
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

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:

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. Here’s a map. Here’s where you can find out who represents you.

For our state government, Michigan is divided into more districts, which allow local people to represent local interests. Here’s a map of the 110 districts for the state’s House of Representatives. Here’s a map to find which of the 38 districts you live in for the state Senate.

What’s on the ballot?

Click here to view a sample ballot and other information about voting in your district.


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