Michigan holds its primary next Tuesday, Aug. 4, amid an unprecedented pandemic and significant changes in state law that have brought a flood of requests for absentee ballots.
Polling places will be open, however, for those who want to vote in person.
What is at stake?
At stake this fall: All 14 of Michigan’s U.S. House seats, one Senate seat and 110 state House seats, plus key races for prosecutor and other top county jobs, as well as elections at the community level.
Here’s an FAQ with everything you need to know to get ready.
I’m worried about catching COVID-19. Can I still get an absentee ballot?
Yes. Under changes in Michigan law, every registered voter is allowed to request an absentee ballot for any reason. At this late date, it’s probably best to go in person to your local clerk’s office to request the ballot — you have until 4 p.m. on the day before the election to do this.
When do Michigan polls open?
Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you’re in line by 8 p.m., you’re legally still allowed to vote.
People are still voting in person despite COVID-19?
Yes. Although some clerks have had issues finding enough poll workers, precincts should be open on Election Day. Contact your local elections official if you have questions about where you should vote.
Do I get to vote for president?
No, not this primary. This primary is for other partisan offices in Michigan, including national, state and local elected positions.
Do I need a mask at the polls?
You do not. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order does not require masks at polling places. But she recommends people either vote by mail or wear a facial covering if they decide to cast a ballot in person.
Why is a mask not mandatory?
Gov. Whitmer weighed making masks at the polls mandatory. But, ultimately, she said there were some legal concerns about infringing on a person’s right to vote. The governor, secretary of state, many local clerks and doctors are still encouraging people to vote from home, or to go to the polls during a less busy time — mid morning or mid afternoon — if they decide to vote in person.
Will my polling place be safe?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Clerks in Detroit, Saginaw and other cities have indicated they are training poll workers on how to effectively sanitize everything from voting machines to the pens used to cast a vote. While masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged for voters, they’re not required. Poll workers will be wearing masks and in many jurisdictions may have masks to provide voters who need them.
I forgot to register to vote. Can I still register and vote?
Yes you can. Michigan allows same-day voter registration. That means up to and through Election Day, you can go to your local clerk, register and cast a ballot. But you’ll need to be eligible to vote — a U.S. citizen and Michigan resident who is at least 18 years old and not serving a jail or prison sentence — and complete an application. Registration requires bringing paperwork with you that verifies where you live. According to the secretary of state, eligible documents include:
– Michigan driver’s license or State ID card
– Current utility bill
– Bank statement
– Paycheck or government check
– Other government document
When do I have to mail in my absentee ballot for my vote to count?
If you have not yet mailed in your ballot, you should seriously consider taking it to a drop box or your local clerk if you want to ensure your vote is counted. Although you are allowed to still put the completed ballot in the mail, COVID constraints are delaying the U.S. Postal Service. And recently, a Michigan court ruled clerks may only count ballots received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, even if they were mailed weeks earlier.
Can I change my absentee ballot?
You can do what’s known as spoiling your absentee ballot, but you need to act before Election Day. This option requires either mailing a signed request to your local clerk that is received by 2 p.m. on the Saturday before the election, or by delivering the signed request in-person at the clerk’s office by 4 p.m. on the day before the election. There is no way to spoil an absentee ballot on Election Day.
I really want to vote, but I cannot remember if I’m registered or where I’m supposed to vote and I have no idea what I do with an absentee ballot. I need help!
The Michigan Voter Information Center, operated by the secretary of state, has information to help people understand everything they need to do to cast a ballot.