Confused? These are the deadlines for voting in Michigan

Oct 20, 2020 at 2:29 pm
click to enlarge Confused? These are the deadlines for voting in Michigan
Ayman Haykal /

We've been trying our best to keep our readers up to date with the various deadlines for the big general election coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 3, considering all the chaos of 2020 — you know, a pandemic, civil unrest, President Donald Trump's suspiciously timed cuts to the U.S. Postal Service, yadda, yadda, yadda — but it turns out things are a bit more complicated than we thought they were.

See, in 2018 Michigan voters approved Proposal 3, which was supposed to make it easier to vote by allowing for no-reason absentee voting and other changes. And it does — but there are quite a few different scenarios to consider, and they all have various deadlines.

Reader Jordan Smellie would know. Smellie is an elections specialist for the City of Ferndale.

"Proposal 2018-3's changes to the constitution made things much better for voters by adding a lot of flexibility, but the downside of that is that it created a staggered series of nuanced deadlines that have proven very difficult for anyone to keep straight, and even more difficult to summarize gracefully," Smellie tells us via email.

Graciously, Smellie has provided us with a more detailed timeline, which we have edited lightly for style. We hope this helps you as much as it helped us.

Your deadlines for the upcoming general election are:

Friday, Oct. 30 (5 p.m.): If you’re getting an absentee voter ballot for this election, the local Clerk can’t mail it to you after this time. You can still get an absentee ballot in person at your local City or Township Hall, however.

Saturday, Oct. 31 (2 p.m.): If you made a mistake on your ballot or changed your mind, your local Clerk can’t mail you a replacement ballot after this time. You can still get a replacement ballot in person at your local City or Township Hall.

Sunday, Nov. 1: The last day you can pick up an absentee voter ballot and take it home with you.

Monday, Nov. 2: You can still get an absentee voter ballot in person, but you have to vote in your local City or Township Hall. Just like on Election Day, you can't take your ballot out of the room.

Monday, Nov. 2 (10 a.m.): If you’ve already turned in your ballot, you can’t change your votes after this time. (If you’re voting in your local clerk’s office today and you make a mistake, you can still receive a replacement ballot.)

Monday, Nov. 2 (4 p.m.): Your local Clerk can't issue absentee ballots to anyone for any reason after this time. (If you are already in the room at 4 p.m., you will be served by staff.)

Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All absentee voter ballots must be signed and in the Clerk’s possession by 8 p.m. in order to be counted.

To make sure your ballot arrives in time, you should not send it by mail. Instead, you should drop it off at your local Clerk or at a designated ballot drop-box. You can find the addresses for both, as well as the answers to any other questions you might have, at

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