Make sure your vote counts with our Michigan voter guide

Oct 14, 2020 at 1:00 am
click to enlarge Make sure your vote counts with our Michigan voter guide
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There’s a big election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, but in fact it’s already begun. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s an unprecedented interest in absentee voting, or voting by mail, and millions of ballots have already been cast. President Donald Trump’s suspiciously timed cuts to the U.S. Postal Service will certainly not help here, but don’t feel daunted. Your vote matters — here’s how to make sure it counts.

Vote in person the day of the election

Vote old-school: simply show up in person to your local polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Bring a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, identification card, or U.S. passport. If you don’t have an ID, don’t worry. You can fill out a brief affidavit stating that you’re not in possession of a photo ID. Your vote will still be counted.

Don’t forget your face mask, although it’s not required at polling stations. It wouldn’t hurt to bring some hand sanitizer or gloves, too. And don’t forget social distancing. You’ll likely be standing in a long line and encountering election workers. You may also want to bring a personal cheat sheet to remind yourself how you’re voting. Even the most astute voters may not be familiar with all of the races, especially the judicial ones.

Questions and answers for in-person voting:

Where is my polling place?
To find your polling place and preview your ballot, visit the Michigan Voter information Center at

What are the voting hours on Election Day?
Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3. If you’re in line to vote at 8 p.m., you have the right to cast your vote. If you’re still in line at 8 p.m. and someone tries to send you home and deny you your right to vote, don't take no for an answer. Ask for a supervisor and an on-site voting advocate.

Where do I sign up to work at the polls on Election Day?
Election workers are an important part of ensuring free and fair elections. During the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan is looking for people to assist clerks and count ballots at polling places. To sign up, visit

May I vote curbside on Election Day?
Yes, people with disabilities can vote from their cars on Election Day. Send someone in to your polling location to request curbside voting, and an election worker will bring you a ballot. This option is only available to people who can’t otherwise access the polling place. Election workers are also required to provide alternatives to stairs, such as ramps or elevators.

Vote absentee, either by mail from home or by voting early in person

Anyone who is registered to vote may cast an absentee ballot in Michigan. Michigan expects a record number of absentee voters in November because of the coronavirus. More than 2 million voters have already requested an absentee ballot.

How do I get an absentee ballot?
Michigan has already sent an absentee ballot application to every registered voter. If you lost the application or didn’t receive one, you may request one by filling out an online application at or request one by sending an application, letter, or postcard to your local clerk. Find your local clerk at Requests may be made via postal mail, fax, or email. Your signature must be visible. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 30. Given the slowdown from Trump’s cuts to USPS, you’ll want to get on this sooner rather than later.

How do I return my absentee ballot?
Once you receive your ballot, you must fill it out and return it to the clerk’s office. There are several different ways to return the ballot. You may send it to your clerk’s office via postal mail using the envelope you received with your absentee ballot. (Be sure your signature is on the return envelope or your vote won’t count.) Election officials recommend returning your ballot via postal mail by Monday, Oct. 19 to ensure it arrives at the clerk’s office in time. You can also return your ballot at a drop-off box. To find drop-off box locations, visit If you choose this option, you must use a drop-box in the community where you are registered to vote. Another way to return your absentee ballot is to take it to your clerk’s office, which is the best way to ensure your ballot was received.

How do I know if my absentee ballot counted?
To make sure your absentee ballot arrived and was counted, visit and click on “Did my ballot arrive?”

Additional questions:

How do I know if I’m registered to vote?
To vote, you must be registered. Visit and click on “Am I registered?” Anyone 18 years or older who is an American citizen and is not currently serving a jail sentence can register to vote.

How do I register to vote?
Registering to vote is easy. To register online, visit and click on “Register to vote online” at the top left-hand corner of the page. To register on this website, you must have a valid Michigan driver’s license or state ID. The deadline to register online is Monday, Oct. 19.

If you don’t have a driver’s license or state ID, you can download a registration application or go to your local Secretary of State branch office or your county, city, or township clerk’s office. Instead of a driver’s license or state ID, you may use a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check, or some other government document that shows where you live.

If the Oct. 19 deadline passes, you may vote as late as Election Day at your local city or township clerk’s office. Bring a driver’s license or state ID, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check, or some other government document that shows where you live.

When will the election results be announced?
With an unprecedented number of people opting to cast absentee ballots this year, don’t expect to hear the results immediately after the polls close. In fact, it could take days before all of the absentee ballots are counted. In Michigan, clerks aren’t allowed to begin counting absentee ballots until Election Day. So hunker down. This could be a long, drawn-out process.

Who should I vote for president?
We can’t imagine anyone could possibly be undecided at this stage, but we’re ridin’ with Joe Biden. Sure, the former Vice President wasn’t our first choice in the primary — we preferred the progressive vision of Sen. Bernie Sanders. But the fact that the two former rivals are now working together, forming a Unity Task Force to craft a platform, shows that Biden is a listener — as does his decision to choose Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, even after she attacked him for his past actions on the issue of race. The bottom line is that President Donald Trump has made every day of our lives for the past four years a living hell, with his unprecedented attacks on the free press, his blatant lies, his racist appeals, and his utter refusal to listen to experts and take the coronavirus seriously. The United States are more like the Divided States these days, and we have a long way to go toward healing. Giving Trump the boot is the first step. —Lee DeVito

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