Voter Registration Requirements
To register to vote you must be:
a U.S. citizen;
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.
Where: You can register to vote for federal, state, and local elections by mail; at your county, city, or township clerk’s office; or by visiting any Secretary of State branch office. In addition, specified agencies providing services through the Family Independence Agency, the Department of Community Health, and the Department of Career Development offer voter registration services to their clients. Military recruitment centers also provide voter registration services.
You must register at least 30 days before the election. This gives the clerk time to process the forms and send you a Voter Identification Card.
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 handled 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 license purposes. Consequently, if you submit a driver 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 license.
A mail-in voter registration form (pdf file) can be obtained by contacting your county or local clerk’s office. If you register by mail, you must vote in person at your assigned precinct the first time you vote, unless you are:
disabled as defined by state law;
60 years of age or older;
temporarily residing overseas.
If you are temporarily outside the U.S., you may use a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) form to register. The FPCA forms are distributed through U.S. embassies and military bases. A Michigan resident who moves and registers out of state may not re-register to vote in Michigan until he or she reestablishes residency here.
You may also register at the same time you renew your driver license by mail. Eligible drivers receive a voter registration application in the mail with their driver license renewal information.
What You Need to Know About Absentee Voting
Absent voter ballots are available for all elections. They provide voters with a convenient method for casting a ballot when they are unable to attend the polls on election day.
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.
Your request for an absent voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted to your city or township clerk. Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons stated above and your signature. You may request an absent voter ballot with a letter or post card, or you can obtain a pre-printed application form at your local clerk’s office. Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be submitted to 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. 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.
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.
If an emergency, such as a sudden illness or family death prevents you from reaching the polls on election day, you may request an emergency absent voter ballot. Requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after the deadline for regular absent voter ballots has passed but before 4 p.m. on election day. The emergency must have occurred at a time which made it impossible for you to apply for a regular absent voter ballot. Your local clerk will have more information about emergency absent voter ballots.
Voting is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in our country. If you are eligible to obtain an absent voter ballot and cannot attend the polls on election day, use of the absent voter ballot is encouraged.
Rights of Voters with Disabilities
The United States Constitution guarantees every U.S. citizen age 18 or older the right to vote. Our state constitution further defines the right to vote by also requiring voters to be residents of Michigan and registered to vote in their city or township of residence.
Other than city or township residency and age requirements, state and federal laws do not place any other restrictions on the right to vote. Voting allows us to shape public policy and determine who leads our communities, state and nation. Our right to vote is basic to our system of democracy, and depends on all people having full and equal access to the ballot.
Voting at the polls can present a unique set of challenges to people with disabilities. Federal and state laws require Michigan’s cities, townships and villages to provide a reasonable number of accessible registration facilities. It is the intent of the law to ensure that voters with disabilities are fully able to exercise their voting rights at the polls. Any action or physical barrier that prevents voters with disabilities from casting a ballot is unacceptable.
To fulfill the intent of the laws, election officials must consider access from outside and inside the polling place. Problems with the physical surroundings such as narrow doorways, stairs, broken pavement and other obstacles outside can prevent voters with disabilities from entering a polling place. Inside a polling place, issues like inadequate lighting and seating, and voting stations that cannot accommodate a person who is seated can further hamper someone’s right to vote.
To ensure that proper accessibility is maintained, federal and state laws require polling places to remove or make accommodations for any barriers that prevent voters with disabilities from voting. Care should be taken to ensure that the polling place is accessible – doors should not be blocked, alternatives to stairs such as ramps or elevators should be available, and lighting and seating should be adequate. Furthermore, at least one voting station should be adapted to allow a person to vote while seated.
Voters with disabilities who require assistance in casting a ballot are allowed to bring a companion provided he or she is not the voter’s employer or co-worker, or an officer or agent of a union the voter belongs to. If voters do not have someone to help them, then two election inspectors with expressed preferences for different political parties can assist.
If you or someone you know requires special access to the polls, it’s important to call the clerk’s office ahead of time to make sure your voting site is free of obstructions. If your precinct is not accessible, you will be directed to an alternative site that is accessible. For more information, contact your local clerk. Hearing impaired residents with questions may contact the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections by TTY at (517) 322-1477.
Copyright © 2002 State of Michigan