Changes include automatic registration, no-reason absentee voting
In November 2018, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 3, also known as the Promote the Vote movement, which made significant changes to Michigan’s election law.
Although the March 2020 primary election is still a ways off, it might be helpful to know who is eligible to vote, how to register to vote and what you can do on Election Day to let your voice be heard.
First, are you eligible to cast a ballot on March 10? In order to vote you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 18 years old by Election Day
- A resident of Michigan
- A resident of the city or township where you are applying to register to vote
According to the Michigan secretary of state, you can visit michigan.gov/voteto see if you are already registered. You may have to check your status because another aspect of Proposition 3 involves automatic registration.
Under the automatic voter registration system, eligible voters are automatically registered to vote whenever they interact with government agencies, such as the Michigan secretary of state. So, if you’ve renewed your driver’s license or made changes to your license, you could be registered. Voters may request not to be registered.
You could also register in person at any of the following places:
- Your county, city or township clerk’s office
- Any Michigan secretary of state branch office
- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Community Health or Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
- Military recruitment centers
- Voter registration drives
You may also register by mail. Download a form online at michigan.gov/documents/MIVoterRegistration_97046_7.pdf and mail it completed to the address indicated on the form. If you register by mail, you must vote in person at your assigned precinct the first time you vote, unless you personally hand-deliver the form to your county, city or township clerk’s office; are disabled as defined by state law; age 60 or older; or eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
Proposal 3 also makes it possible for you to register on Election Day at your precinct voting location. It is likely you will have to provide proof of residency for same-day registration by bringing a utility bill, bank statement or pay stub showing your address.
You also must present acceptable photo identification, which could be:
- Michigan driver’s license
- Michigan personal identification card
- Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state
- Federal or state government-issued photo identification
- S. passport
- Military identification card with photo
- Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university
- Tribal identification card with photo
Even if you do not have a photo ID, you can sign an affidavit that will enable you to vote at the polls.
In the past voters could only cast an absentee ballot if they met certain criteria, such as age or not being able to vote on Election Day because you are out of the state or country.
Proposal 3 allows any eligible voter to vote absentee. Voters must file an absent voter application, which you can find online or pick up at your municipal clerk’s office. The easiest online option might be the fillable version, which enables you to fill out the fields before you print the application, and can be found at michigan.gov/documents/AbsentVoterBallot_105377_7.pdf.
Once you have completed the application, send it to your city or township clerk. You can find the address of your clerk by using the search function by county or address at mvic.sos.state.mi.us/Clerk.
Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be received by your clerk no later than 5 p.m. the Friday before the election.
Once your request is received by the local clerk, your signature on the request will be checked against your voter registration record before a ballot is issued, as you must be a registered voter to receive an absent voter ballot. Requests for absent voter ballots are processed immediately. Absent voter ballots may be issued to you at your home address or any address outside of your city or township of residence.
After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to complete the ballot and personally return it to the clerk’s office.