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Local News

Michigander’s Guide to Absentee Voting

Credit: iStock

Armand Jackson

Michigan’s open primaries take place on Tuesday, Aug. 2 and the statewide midterm election will be Tuesday, November 8. For some residents this will be their first time voting. Michigan allows absentee ballots, so all registered voters can cast their votes without having to visit the polls on Election Day. But residents need to make sure they are a registered voter first before thinking about absentee voting. If a resident is registering to vote they should submit a voter registration application online with a valid Michigan ID. They can also register at a Michigan Secretary of State Office branch, a local township or city clerk’s office, a state agency that provides public services, or by mail if the application is postmarked at least 15 days before the election. 

Voters who wish to check their registration status can visit Michigan Voter Information Center as well as the Voter Information page on michigan.gov to inquire about additional information like where they are registered or ballot drop box locations. An absentee ballot can be requested by the methods mentioned above and do not require any justifications. Keep in mind that absentee applications can be requested online and through the mail up to 5 p.m. the Friday before Election Day at the Michigan Voter Information Center. Voters can request their application be mailed to them by their local clerk and have until 4 p.m. the Monday before the election to request for one in person. 

Once the ballot is filled out and sealed properly in the secrecy envelope, place the ballot in the return envelope and sign the marked area on the outside of the envelope. If the box is not signed then the vote will not be counted. Ballots can be returned to local clerks through the mail, in a secure dropbox location or in person at your local clerk’s office. It is recommended that a completed ballot be mailed to a local clerk’s office at least two weeks before Election Day to avoid any issues. If it is less than two weeks before Election Day then it’s better to return the ballot in person or to a dropbox location.

All ballots must be received by a local clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. Voters who have submitted their ballots but want to change their vote for any reason, also have the option to spoil an absentee ballot by submitting a written request to their city or township clerk. For more information in regards to Bay County elections, Kathleen Zanotti is the Bay County Elections Clerk and her office is located at 515 Center Avenue, Ste. 101., in Bay City, Michigan.