An election is coming up in Michigan on Tuesday, August 4th.
Michiganders will be voting in the primary for a Senator, State and U.S. Representatives; county positions like sheriff, prosecutor, clerk and commissioners; judges and other local officials. Many voters will also weigh in on local proposals to fund public safety, schools, parks, libraries and more.
Since the election is going to happen in the middle of a pandemic, a lot of people are expected to vote by mail even though the polls will be open. If you’ve never voted absentee before, WDET has answers to your questions about important dates and how to successfully return your ballot.
How can I request an absentee ballot?
The easiest way to request an absentee ballot is to apply online. Otherwise, in late May you should have received an application to request an absentee ballot in the mail from the Secretary of State’s office. If you didn’t get this application or you can’t find it, you can download an application online here, or you may be able to pick up an application from your local clerk’s office.
Where do I return my absentee ballot application?
Unless you apply online, you will need to return your completed and signed absentee ballot application to your local clerk’s office. You can deliver it in person, by mail, fax, or by taking a photo and emailing it to your local clerk (find their contact info here).
You can also have someone in your immediate family or household deliver your application to your clerk’s office for you. If that’s not possible, you can ask any registered voter in Michigan to deliver your application for you, but they have to sign the “Certificate of Authorized Registered Elector Assisting in Returning Application” part on your application.
What is the last day I can request an absentee ballot?
That depends. Here are a couple different scenarios:
- Friday July 31st is the last day you can request to have an absentee voter ballot mailed to you. Your application must be received by your clerk no later than 5 p.m. on this day.
- Monday August 3rd is the last day that you can pick up an absentee voter ballot at your local clerk’s office if you’re already registered to vote at your current address. You have to make it in before 4 p.m. Since we’re in a pandemic, you may want to check with your local clerk ahead of time to make sure this is even an option right now.
- Tuesday August 4th (Election Day) is the last day you can request an absentee voter ballot if you go into your local clerk’s office to register to vote or to update your address. If you decide to go with this method, and you go in on August 3rd or Election Day, you’ll have to vote right there in the clerk’s office. Again, since we’re in a pandemic it’s probably best that you call ahead to make sure your clerk’s office will be open.
How can I return my completed absentee ballot? In other words, how do I actually vote?
After receiving your absentee voter ballot in the mail, you have until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th to complete your ballot, sign it, have anyone who helped you vote sign it, and return the ballot to your local clerk’s office. Only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or an election official is authorized to deliver your signed absentee voter ballot to your clerk’s office.
Is there any way that my absentee ballot won’t count?
Yes. If your ballot is not received by your local clerk by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th then it won’t count. This is not the post-mark date, it is the receive-by date, so if you put it in the mail on August 4th, it’s going to be too late. Also, if you forget to sign your ballot, or if the signature on your ballot looks different than the signature on your drivers license or state I.D., your ballot can be thrown out. Additionally, if you do everything else right but then you vote for more than one candidate for one position (for example, if you voted for a Democrat AND a Republican for one position) then your vote in this instance would not count.
What should I do if I don’t receive an absentee ballot in time for the election?
If you applied to vote absentee and it’s getting close to Election Day and you have not received your ballot, you should call your local clerk. If you decide that you do not want to wait and see if your ballot comes, or if you decide that you no longer want to vote by mail, then you need to ask your clerk to spoil your ballot. Once they do this, you will be able to vote in person on Election Day, Tuesday, August 4th. If you have applied to vote by mail, it is not advised that you simply show up to vote in person on Election Day, without notifying your clerk ahead of time.