What are the key election deadlines?
When do you need register, submit an absentee ballot application and mail in the ballot.
How to register to vote
Here's what you need to know about registering to vote in Michigan.
How to vote by mail
Michigan allows no-reason absentee voting. Here's how to do it.
Is voting by mail safe?
Voting by mail has certain measures in place to ensure accuracy and security.
How to vote in person
You might want to vote in person for any number of reason. Precincts will have an in-person polling option on Election Day.
What to expect on Election Day
Tuesday, Nov. 3 will be a little different this year.
Key races for West Michigan
What are some of the key races for this region
Who is running for State House?
Here are the State House races in West Michigan.
The general election is on Nov. 3. This year’s election will look a little bit different with Michigan already setting a record for the number of absentee ballots requested.
Even with ballots being submitted by mail and in person, the election process is still the same. You have to be a registered voter to participate in the election. If you want to vote absentee, you need to apply for a ballot. Either in person or by mail, election officials will make sure you are the person submitting the ballot.
This guide will provide information about voting in Michigan, including:
- What are the key election deadlines
- How to register to vote
- How to vote by mail
- Is voting by mail safe
- How to vote in person
- What to expect on Election Day
What are the key election deadlines?: When do you need register, submit an absentee ballot application and mail in the ballot.
Monday, Oct. 19: Deadline to register to vote online or by mail. Residents can register through Election Day in person.
Friday, Oct. 30: Deadline to request absentee ballot online. You have until 4 p.m. on Nov. 2 to pick up an absentee ballot in person.
Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day
Even though those are the hard deadlines, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging that people request an absentee ballot at least a month before the election. She also suggests mailing a ballot no later than Oct. 20, since it needs to be received by the clerk's office by Election Day for it to count.
How to register to vote: Here's what you need to know about registering to vote in Michigan.
You can either register to vote in person, by mail, or online. In Michigan, in order to register to vote you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be 18 years old by the next election
- Be a resident of Michigan and at least a 30 day resident of your city or township by election day
- Not be confined in a jail or prison after being convicted and sentenced
Importantly, if you have moved to a new city or township you need to re-register. Check your registration status here.
To register to vote online, you will need a Michigan driver's license or state ID. If you don’t have one, you can still register by mail or in person. Visit the Secretary of State’s website and fill out the forms. The deadline to register to vote online before the general election is Oct. 19.
To register to vote by mail, you can print off this form, fill it out, and mail to your clerk’s office. You will need to provide some form of identification, either your Michigan driver’s license number, Michigan state ID number, the last four digits of your social security number, or a copy of other identifying forms like a pay stub, bank statement or license from another state. The deadline to register to vote with this form is 15 days before the election, if you fill it out at a voter registration drive or deliver it to a county clerk. If you mail the form, it must be postmarked 15 days before the election, which is Monday, Oct. 19. After Oct. 19, it can be dropped off at a clerk’s office in person.
To register to vote in person, go to your local clerk's office. You have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to register in person. You will need to bring proof of eligibility and proof of residency.
- A Michigan resident (at the time you register) and a resident of your city or township for at least 30 days (when you vote)
- A United States citizen
- At least 18 years of age (when you vote)
- Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison
- Michigan driver’s license or state ID
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Paycheck or government check
- Other government document
How to vote by mail: Michigan allows no-reason absentee voting. Here's how to do it.
In Michigan, no-reason absentee voting was approved by voters in a 2018 proposal. In order to vote by mail, you need to follow these steps: request a ballot, fill out the ballot, submit it.
1. Request a ballot
An application for an absentee ballot was mailed to all registered Michigan voters ahead of the primary election. If you didn’t get one, you can request an absentee ballot online, call your clerk’s office and ask for a new application to be mailed to you or you can print an application off to mail it in or drop it off in person.
Once you’ve submitted the absentee ballot request, you can track it online. Requests must be received by a clerk by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30. If you bring your request to a clerk’s office, you have until 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2 to get a ballot. When a clerk gets your request, your signature will be compared against your voter registration record before a ballot will be sent out.
2. Fill out your ballot
The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office encourages people to fill out and send their ballot in as soon as they get it. If you haven’t gotten your ballot yet, don’t worry. Clerks won’t start sending them out until Sept. 24.
3. Submit it
Postal delivery times have slowed in recent months, so voters are recommended to mail their ballot in no later than Oct. 20, which is at least two weeks before the election. You can also fill your ballot out at home and drop it off in person at a clerk’s office, which will have a secure drop box available 24 hours a day.
What happens if I submit my ballot and I want to change my vote?
Michiganders who vote absentee have the option to spoil their ballot if they changed their mind. In order to do this, voters need to submit a written request to have a new absentee ballot mailed to them or pick one up in person. This request must be received by Saturday, Oct. 31. A ballot can also be spoiled in person at the clerk’s office until 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.
If you requested and received an absentee ballot, but didn’t turn it in, you can still vote in person. You just need to sign a statement. On Election Day, voters cannot spoil an absentee ballot.
4. Ballot drop-off locations
Is voting by mail safe?: Voting by mail has certain measures in place to ensure accuracy and security.
Short answer: yes.
Absentee voting has been utilized in Michigan for years, but recent changes to state law have only made it widespread. Regardless of the number of people who mail in their ballot, the Secretary of State’s office has measures in place to ensure the safety and security of votes.
It is pretty easy to get an absentee voter application, but getting a ballot is a more stringent process. To get a ballot mailed to you, the signature on your application is compared to the signature on your voter registration. Then, when you submit the ballot, the envelope must also be signed and verified in order for the ballot to count.
Forging someone else’s signature on a ballot, or trying to vote as someone else, is a crime. Voting twice is a felony and punishable on both the state and federal level.
If there is an issue with your ballot, like signatures mismatching, clerks are instructed to contact a voter as quickly as possible.
Michigan also uses paper ballots, which is the most secure way to conduct an election. This allows ballots to be recounted and audited.
How to vote in person: You might want to vote in person for any number of reason. Precincts will have an in-person polling option on Election Day.
Even though state officials are encouraging people to vote absentee to limit crowds at the polls during COVID-19, in person voting is still an option. The Michigan Secretary of State says if you enjoy the “pomp and circumstance” of going to the polls, you can vote on Nov. 3.
You can find your polling place here. In-person polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and there will be social distancing procedures and other measures in place to keep poll workers and voters safe during the pandemic.
Michigan also allows same-day voter registration. You have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to register to vote at your clerk’s office.
What to expect on Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 3 will be a little different this year.
Typically, results on Election Day start trickling in after the polls close and final results can be declared by the end of the night. However, this year election officials are warning that because of large numbers of absentee ballots, results could take longer.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she doesn’t expect final results until the Friday after the election.
Key races for West Michigan: What are some of the key races for this region
While the presidential race gets a lot of attention nationally, there are plenty of other races on the ballot that will be important to West Michigan voters, from a U.S. Senate seat to state-level races to local elections.
Here are a few key races for West Michigan:
First-term Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) is running for re-election, and he has faced stiff competition from John James, a U.S. Army veteran who ran against Sen. Debbie Stabenow and lost by a thinner margin than many expected from a newcomer.
Here's who all is in the race:
- Gary Peters - Democrat
- John James - Republican
- Valerie Willis - U.S. Taxpayers
- Marcia Squier - Green Party
- Doug Dern - Natural Law Party
U.S. HOUSE - 2ND DISTRICT
The 2nd District has been represented by Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Republican from Zeeland, since 2010. While the district is solidly red, Democratic challenger Bryan Berghoef is hoping his faith-based campaign can convince some voters. In 2018, while Huizenga won by more than 10 percentage points, Democrat Rob Davidson made it the closest race for Huizenga to date. This district also has some pivot counties, meaning counties that voted for Trump is 2016 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Here's who all is in the race:
- Bill Huizenga - Republican
- Bryan Berghoef - Democrat
- Gerald Van Sickle - U.S. Taxpayers
- Jean-Michel Creviere - Green Party
- Max Riekse - Libertarian
The 2nd District includes Lake, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Ottawa counties and areas of Allegan, Kent, and Mason counties.
U.S. HOUSE - 3RD DISTRICT
One of the most interesting congressional races in the state is based in Grand Rapids. The 3rd District has been represented by Rep. Justin Amash, the once Republican, short-time Independent, now Libertarian, for a decade. But after briefly consider a White House run, Amash decided not to run for re-election for this seat. Without facing an incumbent, it's been a tight race between Republican Peter Meijer and Democrat Hillary Scholten.
Here's who all is in the race:
- Hillary Scholten - Democrat
- Peter Meijer - Republican
The 3rd District includes the city of Grand Rapids, Ionia, Barry, and Calhoun counties and portions of Kent and Montcalm counties.
U.S. HOUSE - 4TH DISTRICT
Three-term congressman John Moolenaar is running for re-election to represent the 4th District. Moolenaar is again being challenged by Democrat Jerry Hilliard, who competed in 2018 but lost by about 15 percentage points.
Here's who all is in the race:
- John Moolenaar - Republican
- Jerry Hilliard - Democrat
- Amy Slepr - Green Party
- David Canny - Libertarian
The 4th District includes Clare, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Isabella, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montcalm, Osceola and Roscommon counties and portions of Shiawassee and Saginaw counties.
U.S. HOUSE - 6TH DISTRICT
The 6th District is also set up to be a contentious race. While it seems like it will lean Republican, Rep. Fred Upton has face increasingly competitive challengers for the seat. Upton is trying to win his 18th term, and he is running against Democrat State Rep. Jon Hoadley. If elected, Hoadley would be the first Democrat to represent this district in more than three decades and he would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Michigan.
Here's who all is in the race:
- Fred Upton - Republican
- Jon Hoadley - Democrat
- John Lawrence - Green Party
- Jeff DePoy - Libertarian
The 6th District includes Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and portions of Allegan and Calhoun counties.
Who is running for State House?: Here are the State House races in West Michigan.
Michigan's House of Representatives has 110 elected officials. Here are the seats that represent West Michigan:
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