2020, Michigan — January 21, 2020 at 9:11 am

A Student’s Guide to Voting in Michigan


Editor’s note: Since they took control of the state government in 2010, Republicans in our state legislature and executive branch have made voting for students unnecessarily difficult and complex. That’s a feature for them, not a bug. I asked Barb to explain the process so that students living in Michigan have all of the facts on how they can vote in Michigan elections.

A PDF version of this post is available for download by clicking HERE.

A Student’s Guide to Voting in Michigan
By Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk
January 2020
Step 1:

Registering to Vote

  1. Check your voter registration status here
  2. Register to vote by completing this form and signing it
  3. Submit the form to your local clerk. Follow this link to find your local or county clerk
    • Please note: if it is within two weeks of Election Day, you must register to vote in person with your local city or township clerk
  4. Online Voter Registration if you have a valid Michigan Driver’s License or State ID

Step 2:

Requesting an Absent Voter Ballot to Vote by Mail or Going to the Polls on Election Day

Requesting an Absent Voter Ballot:
The easiest way to vote is to vote by mail, which is commonly called absentee voting in Michigan. To do this:

  1. You must request an absentee ballot for each election, and you may do so by completing the following form.
    • To be proactive, you could request to be added to your local clerk’s Permanent Absent Voter Ballot List, so that you will be sent an application for an absent voter ballot for each election.
    • Absentee ballots are available 45 days before every election. If you are registered to vote, you can request a ballot be mailed to you until the Friday before the election at 5 p.m., or a ballot in-person at your city or township clerk’s office until 4 p.m. on the Monday before the election.
  2. Once you receive your ballot in the mail, make sure you fill it out and return it quickly, as it takes nearly a week for mail to arrive, and completed ballots must be in the possession of your local clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.
    • In most cases, you can also drop your ballot off at your local clerk’s office in person until Election Day.
  3. You can also check the status of your absent voter ballot here.

Voting In Person at the Polls on Election Day:
If you would prefer to go to the polls on Election Day, make a plan to be sure that you know where your voting precinct is and have enough time to exercise your right to vote. Keep in mind that, if you are not already registered to vote, you must register at your local clerk’s office, not at the voting precinct.

Once you arrive at the polls, the process for voting is as follows:

  1. Election workers will ask you to complete an Application to Vote and for a photo ID, but if you do not have identification, you may sign an affidavit (one will be provided to you) saying you do not have an ID and you will be given a ballot.
    • In addition to a State ID or Driver’s License, your student ID, U.S. passport, Military ID with photo, or Tribal identification card with photo is acceptable for identification purposes. The ID does not need your address.
  2. Take your ballot to the designated location and fill your ballot out.
    • There is always the option of a traditional paper ballot, where the voter fills in ovals or squares next to their choice(s) for each contest. You may also request to use the Voter Assist Terminal, where the voter makes their selection on a touchscreen device and then a ballot is printed with the voter’s choices listed.
  3. Take your ballot and feed it into the tabulator.
  4. Grab an ‘I Voted’ sticker. You’re done!


  • Registering to vote will not affect your:
    • Federal Financial Aid
      • Pell grants, Perkins or Stafford Loans, or your dependency status for FAFSA
    • Tuition Status
      • Registering to vote on campus does not change your eligibility for out-of-state tuition
    • Insurance
      • Registering to vote will not impact whether or not you can remain on your current health insurance
    • Out of state students, who wish to vote in their home state: Many students report that org is their preferred method of registering to vote. TurboVote makes voting easy through a simultaneous online voter registration and ballot request process that takes minutes to complete.

If you have any problems at the polls, please remember that you may always contact your local or County Clerk (or me at 517-676-7201, inghamclerk@ingham.org.)