Everything You Need to Know to Vote in 2020

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Image credit: Photo Illustration by Meta Stange

Get all the information and deadlines you need to register to vote, request and return your absentee ballot and more.

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If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: 2020 is an unprecedented year, and that’s likely to impact the manner in which people vote.

Like other states, Michigan is expecting to see a surge in absentee voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. This likely means the race won’t be called on the night of the election. It also means a lot of people will be voting by mail for the first time and may have questions about what that entails.

Find the key information and deadlines you need to know for registering to vote, requesting and returning your absentee ballot, or voting in person. This post will be updated with new development.

Make a plan. Research. Vote Early.

Click a question below to learn more. Research conducted by WDET, sections have been copied or paraphrased from the Michigan Secretary of State’s website.

Registering to Vote

Absentee Voting

Spoiling an Absentee Ballot

Voting in Person



Registering to Vote

Where do I go to register to vote?

  • Online at Michigan.gov/voterregistration
  • At a Secretary of State branch office
  • At your city or county clerk’s office or county clerk’s office
  • At any state agency that provides public assistance or services to people with disabilities
  • By mailing in a completed voter registration application postmarked October 19, 2020 or earlier
  • A voter registration drive

What do I need to register to vote?

  • To register to vote, you’ll need to provide proof of eligibility and residency
    • To be eligible to vote, you must be
      • A Michigan resident (at the time you register) and a resident of your city or township for at least 30 days (when you vote)
      • A United States citizen
      • At least 18 years of age (when you vote)
      • Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison
    • Proof of residency if registering within two weeks of election: If you’re registering within 14 days of Election Day, you must show proof of where you live by showing documents that have your name and current address. Acceptable documents include:
      • Michigan driver’s license or state ID
      • Current utility bill
      • Bank statement
      • Paycheck or government check
      • Other government documents

What’s the deadline for registering to vote?

  • October 19 – Deadline to register online or by mail to vote (mailed applications must be postmarked by this day)
  • November 3 – Deadline to register in person at your local clerk’s office
    • If you are registering to vote on Election Day, you can request an absentee voter ballot at the same time you register, which you must complete in the clerk’s office.

Absentee Voting

How do I request an absentee ballot?

  • All eligible and registered voters in Michigan are able to request an absentee voter ballot without providing a reason. To do so, complete an online application at Michigan.gov/Vote or submit an application, letter, or postcard to your local clerk. Requests for absentee voter ballots can be returned to your clerk by hand, via mail, fax or email as long as the signature is visible

How do I return my absentee ballot?

  • Mail your completed ballot back to the address indicated on the return envelope. Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day, after the Michigan Court of Appeals blocked a ruling that would have allowed ballots postmarked by election day and received within two weeks of the election. Get your ballot in as early as possible just to be safe.
  • Deliver your completed ballot to the designated drop box overseen by your clerk. You can find the drop boxes available to you by entering your address on the state’s website.

How do I track my ballot?

  • Once your ballot has been returned, you can track that it was received by your clerk by entering your information here

What are deadlines for requesting and returning absentee ballots?

  • October 30 – Deadline to request to have an absentee voter ballot mailed to you (must be received by your local clerk no later than 5 p.m.)
  • November 2 – Deadline to request an absentee ballot in person at your local clerk’s office if you’re already registered at your current address (must be received by your local clerk no later than 4 p.m.). This ballot must be completed at the clerk’s office
  • November 3 – Absentee ballots must be returned to your local clerk’s office by 8 p.m.

Spoiling an Absentee Ballot

How do I spoil an absentee voter ballot?

  • If you’ve already voted absentee and want to change your vote for any reason, you can spoil your ballot by submitting a written request to your local clerk. You must sign the request and state if you would like a new absentee ballot mailed to you or if you plan to vote at the polls

What are deadlines for spoiling an absentee voter ballot?

  • October 31 – Deadline for request to be received by mail (must be received by 2 p.m.)
  • November 2 – Deadline to spoil in person at the clerk’s office (must be completed by 4 p.m.)

Voting in Person on Election Day

Where do I vote in person?

What do I need to vote in person?

  • You will be asked to show an ID, but it is not required to vote. ID types you can use include:
    • Michigan driver’s license or state ID
    • Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state
    • Federal or state government-issued photo identification
    • U.S. passport
    • Military ID with photo
    • Student identification with photo from a high school or accredited institution of higher learning
    • Tribal identification card with photo
  • If you do not have an ID, you can still vote. You will be asked to sign a form before you vote that explains that you didn’t have an ID. Your ballot will be included with all others

What is the deadline for voting in person on Election Day?

  • November 3 – The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You have the right to vote if you are in line by 8 p.m.

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Meta Stange , Digital Producer

Meta Stange is the Digital Producer for 101.9 WDET, running the station’s social channels and creating digital editorial content. She enjoys reading, making bad jokes, and hanging out with her dog, Salmon.

Meta.Stange@wdet.org Follow @METASTIC

2020 Voter Information Center

This post is a part of 2020 Voter Information Center.

This year's November federal, state and local elections are unprecedented in many ways, most significantly the expected surge in absentee voting in Michigan due to the coronavirus pandemic. 101.9 WDET is committed to offering trusted, accurate information on voting, ballot access and key issues. 

Bookmark our 2020 Voter Information Center for the latest information from the WDET newsroom.

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