FAQ
Elections & Voting
Who qualifies for an absent voter ballot?

As a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot if you are:

  • 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.
  • Additional information can be found at What You Need to Know About Absent Voting.

 

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How do I get an absent voter ballot?

Your request for an absent voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted to your city or township clerk (for assistance in obtaining the address of your city or township clerk, see the Michigan Voter Information Center)

Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons and your signature. You must request an absent voter ballot by sending the application, application (large print version) a letter, a postcard, or a pre-printed application form obtained from your local clerk's office to your local clerk. Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be received by your clerk no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday 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. 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.

 

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Where do I send the absent voter ballot once I've filled it out?
Please return it to your local clerk's office. The Michigan Voter Information Center will help you locate the office if the address is not provided on the return envelope.

 

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How can I check on the status of my absent voter ballot request?

You can check on the status of your absent voter ballot request by contacting your city or township clerk's office. Voters can obtain contact information for their clerk by using the Michigan Voter Information Center. 

 

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When is the absent voter ballot due?
After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to complete the ballot and return it to the clerk's office. Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature on file. If you received assistance voting the ballot, then the signature of the person who helped you must also be on the return envelope. Only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or election official is authorized to deliver your signed absent voter ballot to your clerk's office.

 

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What is an emergency absent voter ballot and how would I get one?

You may make an "emergency" request for an absent voter ballot if you cannot attend the polls on Election Day because:

  • You have become physically disabled; or
  • A family death or illness requires you to leave your community for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day.

The emergency must have occurred at a time which made it impossible for the voter to apply for an absent voter ballot by the statutory deadline for regular applications.  Therefore, requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election, which is the deadline for applying for a regular absent voter ballot, but before 4 p.m. on Election Day. Contact your local clerk to obtain your emergency absent voter ballot. Emergency absent voter ballots must be returned to the clerk's office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

 

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How does the voter ID requirement affect me if I vote with an absent voter ballot?
If obtaining your absent voter ballot in person, you will be requested to show photo ID.  If you are not in possession of photo ID, you can simply sign an affidavit stating you are not in possession of photo ID.  This requirement does not apply if requesting your ballot via mail. 

Please note that a person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. The restriction does not apply to voters who are active duty military, overseas, disabled or 60 years of age or older. 

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Are absent voter ballots always counted?

Yes. Absent voter ballots simply allow voters who are eligible to cast ballots prior to Election Day. They are counted on Election Day along with all ballots voted at the polls.

 

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I must vote in person, because I registered to vote by mail and have not voted in Michigan before. Is there a way I can vote absentee?
Under Michigan law, if you register to vote by mail, you must appear in person to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate (this provision does not apply if you are over 60 years old, disabled or an overseas voter.) If you are subject to the "voting in person" requirement and have a need for an absent voter ballot, you can satisfy the requirement by requesting an absent voter ballot in person from the clerk of the city or township where you are registered to vote by the day preceding the election.

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How can I contact the Bureau of Elections?

The Bureau of Elections is located on the first floor of the Richard H. Austin Building (formerly the Treasury Building) at 430 W. Allegan St., in downtown Lansing. Access is available through the north side and south side entrances. All guests must register at the security desk before proceeding to the Bureau of Elections. The entrance to the Bureau is located in the northeast corner of the lobby.

Regular mail for the Bureau of Elections should be addressed to:

Michigan Department of State
Bureau of Elections
PO Box 20126
Lansing, MI 48901-0726

The mailing address for overnight or express deliveries is:

Michigan Department of State
Bureau of Elections
Richard H. Austin Building - First Floor
430 W. Allegan
Lansing, MI 48918

You may also contact the Bureau by:

Phone: (517) 373-2540
Fax: (517) 373-0941

 

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When is the Bureau of Election's office open?
The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays. The office is open over the lunch hour.

 

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Where can I get directions to the Bureau of Elections?

Take Interstate 69, Interstate 96 or your best route to Interstate 496.

 

From East I-496:
Take the Martin Luther King Blvd/M-99 (MLK), Exit #5
Proceed east on W. Main St.
Turn north (left) onto MLK at the second signal.
Continue north on MLK. At the third signal, turn east (right) onto Allegan St. (East Capitol Loop).
Proceed east on Allegan until you reach the Richard H. Austin Building (formerly the Treasury Building) on the left, 430 W. Allegan.

 

From West I-496:
Take the Martin Luther King Blvd/M-99 (MLK), Exit #5
Exit #5 merges onto W. St. Joseph. After exiting the freeway, immediately cross over into the right-hand lane of W. St. Joseph St.
Turn north (right) onto MLK at the signal.
Continue north on MLK. At the second signal, turn east (right) onto
Allegan St. (East Capitol Loop.)
Proceed east on Allegan until you reach the Richard H. Austin Building (formerly the Treasury Building) on the left, 430 W. Allegan.

 

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Where can I park when I visit the Bureau of Elections in Lansing?

The City of Lansing provides both metered parking and ramps.

  • Metered parking is available along the south side of Allegan St. Meters require change.
  • Limited public parking is available in the gated pay lot off of Allegan, next to Constitution Hall, directly across from the Richard H. Austin Building.
  • There is a city parking ramp on the southwest corner of Allegan and Capitol. Access is available from both Allegan and Capitol streets. Ramp requires you take a ticket and pay as you exit.

 

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What functions does the Bureau of Elections perform?

The Bureau of Elections is responsible for:

  • Administering the state's election and campaign finance law
  • Providing information about registering to vote and voting
  • Providing oversight and training to local election officials
  • Assisting candidates running for statewide offices with the requirements for filing nominating petitions, affidavits of identity and campaign finance reports
  • Administering the Michigan Electronic Reporting and Tracking System, which allows candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically
  • Administering the campaign finance database, which allows the public to access campaign finance reports via the department's Web at site at www.Michigan.gov/sos
  • Maintaining the state's Qualified Voter File, an electronic database of registered voters
  • Administering the state's casino and lobbyists disclosure laws
  • Providing support to the Board of State Canvassers

 

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What Department is the Bureau of Elections under? How is the Bureau of Elections organized?
The Bureau of Elections is a part of the Department of State. The Bureau is divided into three divisions: the Disclosure Data Division, Elections Liaison Division and Program Development Division.

 

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What types of information are available if I visit the Bureau of Elections in person or on the Web?

Within our office, you can obtain information about registering a committee and the types of forms required. We also have campaign finance analysts to help you with your filing requirements and the dates your reports are due. You can also get information about placing your name on the ballot and the requirements for filing for an office. There are elections specialists who can speak with you and answer any questions you might have about running for office.

Our online Web services include the campaign finance, lobby and casino disclosure databases. Election officials and county, township and city clerks can also access information about the Qualified Voter File online. Voter registration forms as well as a number of election-related forms, brochures and manuals are also available online.

 

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How can the Bureau of Elections' computer records be accessed?

Electronic records may be accessed by using our Campaign Finance Searchable Database. To access the database:

 

  • Select Campaign Finance Disclosure from the left hand navigation bar
  • Scroll down and select from one of the options listed in the Campaign Finance Searchable Database text box

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What are the fees for making copies at the Bureau of Elections?
Copies of paper documents can be made for $0.05 per page, payable by cash, check or money order.

 

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Will the Bureau of Elections copy documents for me?
Yes, the Bureau of Elections can make copies of public documents. There is a fee of $0.25 per page, which must be paid before the request can be filled.

 

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Can I pay for fees or materials by credit card?
No, we accept cash, check, or money orders only.

 

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How do I make a request for documents?

To obtain copies, please submit a written request to:

Michigan Department of State
Bureau of Elections
PO Box 20126
Lansing, Michigan 48901-0726

Or via fax: 517-373-0941

Or via e-mail to disclosure@michigan.gov (campaign finance) or elections@michigan.gov (all other election related documents)

 

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Who represents me at the state and federal levels?

It's easy to find out who your representatives are at the state and federal levels:

State Representative: house.michigan.gov/.
State Senator: www.senate.mi.gov/.
Congressional representative: Federal Election Commission site at www.fec.gov.

 

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What hours are the polls open on Election Day?
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all elections.

 

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What is the Voter ID requirement?

When you go to the polls to cast a ballot, you will be asked to produce photo identification. The requirements are the result of a 1996 law determined to be enforceable by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2007.

The following types of photo ID are acceptable:

  • Michigan driver's license or state-issued ID card
  • 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

The ID does not need your address. If you do not have photo ID or do not bring it with you to the polls, you may still vote. Simply sign an affidavit stating that you are not in possession of photo identification. Your ballot is included with all others and is counted on Election Day.

 

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How can I learn more about the presidential primary process?

The Bureau of Elections has compiled The Presidential Primary Reference Guide which lists the history of the presidential primary in Michigan.

 

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How do I find current and past election results?
The Previous Election Information page on our Web site has many resources. Statewide election results are listed by year.

Your local clerk's office will have all of your local election results.

 

 

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Does Michigan allow early voting?

No. While some states allow all voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, Michigan does not have early voting. Of course, qualified Michigan voters can cast absentee ballots prior to Election Day. See the section above on Absent Voter Ballots.

 

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How do I determine where I go to vote?
The Michigan Voter Information Center can help you determine whether you are registered to vote, where you cast your ballot on Election Day and where your local clerk's office is located. If you are not registered, you can follow the step-by-step instructions to register. You may also learn about voting equipment in your precinct, the voter identification requirement, and what you need to know if you would like to work at the polls on Election Day.

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. 

 

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Where can I learn about the types of voting equipment I will see at my polling place?

The Michigan Voter Information Center includes information on all types of optical scan technology used in Michigan, as well as the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal, which can be used by voters with disabilities.

In addition, you may also access instructional videos on how to use Michigan's voting-related technology.

 

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How can I learn about the candidates and proposals in my area?
The Michigan Voter Information Center can help you determine what you will see on your ballot on Election Day. You may also contact your local clerk's office to learn more. The Michigan Voter Information Center can help you locate your local clerk's office.

 

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I am considering becoming an election inspector. How can I find out more?

If you have ever wondered how to become more active in government, there are plenty of opportunities for you that do not involve running for elected office. Michigan has 83 counties, 274 cities, and 1,242 townships. During an election, each of these units of government requires a staff of paid workers to work at the polls.

Precinct inspectors are people who are paid to assist voters at the polls on Election Day. Registered voters interested in serving as election inspectors must submit an election inspector application to their local clerk. In addition to their name, address and date of birth, applicants must include their political party preference and qualifications to fill the position such as education or experience.

A precinct inspector must be a registered voter of the State. They cannot be a challenger, candidate, member of a candidate's immediate family, or a member of the local Board of Canvassers. Anyone convicted of a felony or an election crime may not serve.

Precinct inspectors are covered by the federal Minimum Wage Act.

Submit the Election Inspector Application to the city or township clerk of your choice.  The city or township clerk will be able to answer any questions you have regarding becoming and/or being a precinct inspector. Why not consider helping your community and becoming more politically active by becoming a precinct inspector?

You can find your local clerk via the Michigan Voter Information Center

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Can I wear election-related clothing to the polls?

Michigan has prohibited the practice of displaying election-related materials at the polls for decades. This includes clothing and buttons as well as materials such as pamphlets, fliers and stickers. You cannot display such items in the polling place or within 100 feet of an entrance to a polling place. If you go to the polls with a shirt or button bearing election-related images or slogans, you will be asked to cover or remove it.

 

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Must I vote the entire ballot?

You are not required to vote the entire ballot. You may pick and choose the races or ballot questions for which you want to vote. Skipping sections of the ballot does not invalidate your ballot.

 

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Does a "straight" ticket cover all candidates in that party?

Yes. At the top of a General election ballot, there is an opportunity to vote "straight" party, which selects all candidates on that party's ticket with a single vote. If you vote a straight party ticket, there is no need to vote again for any individual candidate in the party column. However, if you do vote straight party and then vote for an individual candidate in that same party, it will not invalidate your vote for that candidate. 

 

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Can I vote a "split" ticket?


August Primary

You cannot "split" your ticket (i.e., vote in more than one party column) when voting in the August primary. Voters participating in an August primary must confine their votes to a single party column.

 

November General Election

You can "split" your ticket when voting in the November general election.  A voter participating in a November general election who wishes to cast a "split" ticket can vote for individual candidates of his or her choice under any party or can vote a "straight party" ticket and vote for individual candidates under any other party.  The votes cast for individual candidates under the other parties will override the straight party vote in the races involved.

 

 

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Can voters be challenged based on home foreclosures?

The compilation of home foreclosure information alone does not provide sufficient reason to challenge a person's voting status. In fact, the Michigan Republican and Democratic parties are in agreement that so-called foreclosure lists do not provide a reasonable basis to challenge voters.

 

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Can I use a camera in the polls?

No. The use of video cameras, still cameras and other recording devices are prohibited in the polls when they are open for voting. This includes still cameras and other recording features built into many cell phones. The ban applies to all voters, challengers, poll watchers and election workers. Exceptions are made for credentialed members of the news media though certain restrictions remain.

 

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What kind of identification do I need to show to register to vote?

If you hand-deliver your application, the staff person helping you will take your form and ask you to provide photo identification.  If you do not have an acceptable form of photo identification, you will be asked to sign an Affidavit of Voter not in Possession of Picture Identification.

If you have never registered to vote in Michigan and choose to mail in your application, you will need to meet an identification requirement. This means you must:

  • Enter your driver's license number or personal identification card number where requested on the form, or
  • Send a copy of one of the following forms of identification with your application:
    • A photocopy of your driver's license or personal ID card, or
    • A photocopy of a paycheck stub, utility bill, bank document or government document that lists both your name and your address.
  • OR if you are unable to fulfill this requirement at the time of registration, you may provide one of the above items at the polls on election day to complete the process.

NEVER SEND AN ORIGINAL DOCUMENT!

If you have never voted in Michigan and choose to submit the form by mail or through a third party, such as at a voter registration drive, you must appear in person to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate. This requirement does not apply if:

  1. You personally hand-deliver the form to your county, city or township clerk's office instead of mailing the form, or 
  2. You are 60 years of age or more, or
  3. You are disabled, or
  4. You are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

 

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Who can register to vote in Michigan?

To register to vote in Michigan you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States of America.
  • At least 18 years of age (by election day).
  • A resident of Michigan and the city or township where you are applying to register to vote.
  • Not serving a sentence in jail or prison

 

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How do I register to vote?

You can register to vote by mail using this form or large print form; at your county, city, or township clerk's office; or by visiting any Secretary of State branch office.

In addition, the following State agencies offer voter registration services to their clients: Department of Human Services, the Department of Community Health and the Department of Career Development. Military recruitment centers also provide voter registration services.

 

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Can Michigan residents in jail or prison still vote?

Michigan residents confined in jail or prison who are awaiting arraignment or trial are eligible to vote. However, residents who are serving a sentence in jail or prison after conviction cannot vote during the period of confinement. When residents are released from jail or prison after serving a sentence, they are free to participate in elections without restriction.

 

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How can I register to vote by mail?

A mail-in voter register can be found here. Mail the completed form to the address indicated on the form. If you have never voted in Michigan and register by mail, you must appear in person to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate. This requirement does not apply if you personally hand deliver the form to your county, city or township clerk's office or you are:

  • disabled as defined by state law
  • 60 years of age or older
  • eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absent Voting Act

If you have never voted in Michigan and register by mail, you may be subject to an additional identification requirement provided under federal law. The identification requirement can be met by providing your Michigan driver’s license number or last four digits of your social security number on the mail in form or sending a copy of any current and valid photo identification or a copy of a paycheck, government check, utility bill, bank statement or a government document which lists your name and address with the registration form. If you do not fulfill this requirement at the time of registration, you may provide one of the above items at the polls on election day to complete the process.

 

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What is the deadline for registering to vote in an election?
You must register to vote at least 30 days before the election.

 

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Am I notified after I submit a Voter Registration Application?
Yes. After your Voter Registration Application is processed by your clerk, you will receive a Voter Identification Card that will list your polling place location and your voting districts. This card is for your reference and is not required to vote.  If you did not receive or lost the Voter Identification Card, call your local Clerk for a replacement or visit www.Michigan.gov/vote to check your registration status.   

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I moved and need to update my voter registration record. How do I do that?

Whenever you move to a new city or township, you must re-register to vote. If you move within a city or township, you must update your address. This can be completed online via ExpressSOS.com, through your local clerk, at a Secretary of State branch office, or by mail.

Michigan voters must use the same residential address for voter registration and driver's license purposes. Consequently, if you submit a driver's license address change, it will be applied to your voter registration. Similarly, if you submit a voter registration address change, it will be applied to your driver's license.

Therefore, if the residence address you provide when registering to vote differs from the address shown on your driver's license or state identification card, the Secretary of State will automatically change your driver's license or state identification card address to match your registration address. If an address change is made, the Secretary of State will mail you an address update sticker for your driver's license or state identification card.

 

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If I will be temporarily outside the United States during the elections, will I still be able to vote?
If you will be temporarily outside the United States, make arrangements with your local Clerk to obtain an absentee ballot before you leave or to have the ballot mailed to you overseas.

If you are already outside of the United States you may use the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) form to register to vote and request absent voter ballots. The FPCA forms are distributed through U.S. embassies and military bases and may be found at www.fvap.gov 

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Do I need my voter registration card in order to vote?

No. As long as you are in the correct polling location, your name will appear on the registration list supplied to your precinct.

The Voter Identification Card is for your reference and is not required to vote.  If you did not receive or lost the Voter Identification Card, call your local Clerk for a replacement or visit www.Michigan.gov/vote to check your registration status.   

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Is my voter record available to the public?
Yes. All voter registration records are public documents and are available for public inspection during normal business hours.

Items exempt include:
  • Driver's license or state personal identification number
  • Month and day of the voter's birth
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • The identity or type of office that initially received the registration
  • Information regarding an individual's refusal to register to vote

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If I register to vote by mail, do I need to be aware of any special requirements?

Yes, but only if you have never previously voted in Michigan. If you have never voted in Michigan, and choose to register by mail, you must appear in person to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate.

However, this requirement does not apply if:

  • You personally hand-deliver the registration form to your county, city or township clerk's office instead of mailing the form, or
  • You are 60 years of age or more, or
  • You are disabled, or
  • You are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

You must also meet an identification requirement under federal law. That means you must:

  • Enter your state-issued driver's license number or personal ID card number where requested on the registration form, or
  • Send one of the following forms of identification when mailing this form to your county, city or township clerk:
    • A photocopy of a current and valid photo identification (such as a driver's license or personal ID card) or
    • A photocopy of a paycheck stub, utility bill, bank statement or a government document that lists your name and address.
  • OR if you are unable to fulfill this requirement at the time of registration, you may provide one of the above items at the polls on election day to complete the process.

NEVER SEND AN ORIGINAL DOCUMENT!

If you don't fulfill that requirement, you will be asked for an acceptable form of identification before you vote in your first election in Michigan. The identification requirement does not apply if:

  • You personally hand-deliver the registration form to your county, city or township clerk's office instead of mailing the form, or,
  • You are disabled, or
  • You are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

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Do I need to show identification in order to vote?

Michigan does have a voter identification requirement at the polls. Voters are asked to present an acceptable photo ID such as a Michigan driver's license or identification card. Please note that voters who do not have an acceptable form of ID or failed to bring it with them to the polls still can vote. They simply sign a brief affidavit stating that they're not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots are included with all others and counted on Election Day.

The following types of photo ID are acceptable:

  • Michigan driver's license or state-issued ID card
  • 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

The ID does not need your address.

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Does a political party preference have to be declared when registering to vote?
No. Michigan voters do not register by party.

 

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Is there a way I can help register voters?
Yes. Most voter registration drives use this mail-in voter registration form. Voters simply need to complete this form and send it to the appropriate city or township clerk. If voters who register with this form have never voted in Michigan before, they must vote in person the first time they vote unless they are 60 years of age or more, disabled or overseas.

If you did not find the information you need, enter a descriptive word or phrase in the Search field located in the upper right corner or send us an e-mail and we will help you get the information you need.