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5 things to know about primary voting in Michigan

Vote Here sign
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
A polling location in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Michigan's primary election is Tuesday, and already this year's vote has garnered a lot of attention.

A recent study done by Pew Research Center found that more voters than normal have been active in this election season, as it is seen as an opportunity to vote either for or against Donald Trump. For the first time in state history, Michigan ballots will have a libertarian primary. 

On top of all of this, more than 7,300,000 people are registered to vote in Michigan, an all time high. 

But before you make it to the polls or submit an absentee ballot, here are some things you should know about the primaries in Michigan:

1. Where and when are the primaries?

  • The primaries are on August 7th from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As long as voters are in line by 8 p.m., they will be able to vote. This means that polling places will stay open past 8 p.m., but only for voters who are in line before the “closing time.”
  • Don't know where to vote? Find your polling place here.
  • Typically, before and after working hours are the busiest times to vote. Getting in after 9 a.m. or before 4 p.m. will usually mean the shortest line. 

2. Can't make it to the polls? Vote absentee!

Requests for an absentee ballot must be at the clerk’s office by August 4th at 2 p.m.

Voters are eligible for an absentee ballot for the following reasons:

  • Age 60 years old or older;
  • Unable to vote without assistance at the polls;
  • Expecting to be out of town on election day;
  • In jail awaiting arraignment or trial;
  • Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons;
  • Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Michigan absentee voter form
Credit State of Michigan
State of Michigan

An absentee ballot needs to be to the clerk by 8 p.m. on August 7th. Absentee ballots received after this will not be counted.

Methods to return an absentee ballot are:

  • Delivered to the clerk, the office of the clerk, or an assistant of the clerk in person.
  • Sent in by mail (voters must provide postage).
  • An immediate family member, including father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or a person residing in the voter’s household may mail or deliver a ballot to the clerk.
  • Voters may request assistance in returning an absentee ballot if none of the above methods are possible, and the voter/absentee ballot is within the jurisdictional limits of the city, township, or village that the voter is registered in. Requests must be made by telephone, and before 5 P.M. August 3rd. Your absent voter ballot will be picked up by a clerk or assistant sent by the clerk. Note, all persons authorized to pick up voter ballots will have credentials issued by the clerk.
  • Find your clerk here

3. Remember to only vote for one party.

someone writing on a ballot
Credit Michael Dorausch / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Not as many people vote in gubernatorial election years compared to Presidential election years.

Primaries are open in Michigan, which means voters do not need to register as a member of a particular party before Election Day. But this also means residents can only vote for either Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians. On the ballot, all candidates from a particular party will be lined in the same column, so make sure to only vote in one column.

The Michigan SOS website says, “You may vote in one party section only; you cannot 'split your ticket.' If you vote in more than one party section, your partisan ballet will be rejected.”

4. Have you moved recently? Make sure you update your registration. 

The deadline already passed to re-register to vote with a new address, but there is one way around this:

  • Registered Michigan voters who have moved within 60 days of the election may still vote at their previous address if they did not register to vote at their new address by the close of registration for this election.
  • If you applied to change the address on your driver’s license, your voting registration may have automatically transferred over as well. Check to see here.
  • And, lastly, if you moved more than 60 days ago, and have not updated your address or registration, you will not be eligible to vote. But you can register for the November 8th election on or before Tuesday, October 9th.

5. If you don't have an ID, you can still vote! 

No photo ID? Just fill out this affidavit at your local polling place to cast your vote.
Credit Michigan Secretary of State / YouTube clip
YouTube clip

Michigan does not assume that all voters will have a picture ID to bring to the polls. Voters who do not have a photo ID, or voters who forget to bring a photo ID, can vote like any other voter by signing an affidavit stating who they are.

But if you have an ID, bring it. It's possible to vote without one, but much easier with one. Acceptable forms of photo ID are:

  • Driver’s license or personal ID card issued by another state;
  • Federal or state government-issued photo ID;
  • U.S. passport;
  • Military identification card with photo;
  • Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education;
  • Tribal identification card with photo.

Some last things to note before you vote:

  • Selfies at the voting booth are not permitted! Wait to take a selfie with your cool sticker until after you leave the voting location.
  • If you did not make the cut-off for the primaries, you can still register before the November election. Registration is available atyour Secretary of State office or through mailing this form.
  • If you are 17 now, but will be 18 by the general election, you are still eligible to register now.
  • To do your research before you get to the booth, check a sample ballot for your county here.
Kathryn began at Michigan Radio in 2017 as an intern in the grants department. After being among the magic of Michigan Radio for nine months, she got the radio bug and now is an intern in the digital team. Kathryn works on all things web related; photos, videos, writing, and various other forms of multimedia information sharing. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 with a degree in English, and minors in Art & Design, and the Environment.
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