Here are answers to your questions about voting in Michigan’s primary

By: - August 3, 2020 12:20 pm

Elections staff are receiving ballots from drivers, allowing voters to walk-in and submit their ballots at City of Detroit Election Commission headquarters, Aug. 3, 2020 | Ken Coleman

On Tuesday, Michigan will hold a statewide primary election. The Advance has put together this quick guide on how residents can vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure they get their vote — in-person or absentee — in before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

I have an absentee ballot. How can I make sure it’s counted?

If you applied for and received an absentee ballot for the state’s primary election, it’s too late to mail it in now — it likely won’t arrive in time, especially with a slowdown in mail service. Absentee ballots must be received by clerk offices or polling places by 8 p.m. the day of the election or they won’t be counted.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging voters to bring absentee ballots to their local election clerk’s office or drop boxes prior to 8 p.m. Tuesday to ensure they are counted. 

Voters can find their local clerks at

The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) also has a list of locations for voters who want to directly submit their absentee ballots into ballot drop boxes. It can be accessed here. Voters must use the drop box in their jurisdiction.

Can I still get an absentee ballot?

Yes, but hurry — the deadline to request one is 4 p.m. Monday. Voters need to obtain a ballot through a visit to their local clerk’s office by that time. 

Anyone who has already cast an absentee ballot but wants to amend their vote — known as “spoiling” their ballot — needs to alert their local clerk before that 4 p.m. deadline so they may invalidate the old ballot and fill out a new one.

Absentee ballot requests top 2016 primary total

I want to vote in Tuesday’s election, but I’m not registered.

That’s OK — you can still vote in-person. In 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 3, which added eight voting policies to the state Constitution. One of them was same-day voter registration, which lets individuals register and vote at the same time. 

Of course, there are the usual requirements to register: a person has to be a U.S. citizen, a current resident of Michigan, at least 18 years old and a current resident of the city or township in which they’re voting.

Individuals who choose to register to vote on Election Day must show proof of where they live, according to the SOS website. Documents or digital copies must have a person’s name and latest address, like a Michigan driver’s license or state identification card. Utility bills, bank statements, paychecks or government documents also work. You can fill out a provisional ballot if you do not have ID.

What should I know if I’m voting in-person?

In-person voting is still happening. However, voters should be prepared for the possibility of longer lines and wait times as election officials grapple with COVID-19 sanitation protocols and social distancing requirements at polling locations.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections says it also has provided each election jurisdiction with masks, gloves and cleaning supplies. Election workers will wear masks. The SOS is strongly encouraging voters to do the same.

Supreme Court: Absentee ballots must be received by election day to count

When do polls open and close?

In Michigan, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone who is in line to vote by 8 p.m. cannot be turned away.

What if I encounter an issue on Election Day?

A national, nonpartisan coalition called Election Protection has set up state hotlines for voters who have questions or experience problems while voting. Michiganders can call 888-687-868 to speak with someone or to report issues.

Can I get an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election?

Yes. Registered voters can still obtain an absentee ballot for the upcoming general election. Proposal 3 also added a policy that allows registered Michigan voters to request an absentee ballot without needing a reason. 

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C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore

C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.