Michigan voting 2020: What to know to cast ballots in-person on Election Day
Election Day 2020 is finally upon us, and it promises to be one of the most unusual in memory.
As of Monday, 3 million people statewide had already cast an absentee ballot. That’s more than half of the expected turnout, which Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says will likely exceed the record 5.08 million votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.
Bridge Michigan has been asking readers what they want to know ahead of Election Day. You’ve answered the call.
We know your questions will likely continue past Election Day, and we’re here to help. Please continue to tell us what you want to know here.
Where’s my polling place?
You can find your polling place by putting in your voter information here. This website will also tell you all kinds of other information, including who is on your ballot, what hours your clerk’s office is open, the locations of your local ballot drop boxes and more.
When do polls open and close?
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time across the state. Because some areas of Michigan are in the Central time zone — Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee counties — polls won’t be closed statewide until 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Where can I learn about the candidates on my ballot?
Check who is on your local ballot before heading to the polls by entering your voter information here and clicking “view” under “Ballot Preview.”
Bridge reporter Kelly House has put together a comprehensive toolkit to help research candidates and issues on the ballot.
Do I need a photo ID to vote?
No. If you have a photo ID, you will be asked to show it to poll workers when you check in (the worker may ask you to briefly lower your mask to show your face to check against the ID). If you do not, you will have to sign an affidavit saying you don’t have a photo ID with you.
“Signing the affidavit is the same as showing your ID,” a Secretary of State spokesperson told Bridge Michigan earlier this year. Your ballot will not be treated any differently than if you had an ID with you.
Can I wear swag for my favorite candidate to the polls?
Nope. Election-related clothing is barred from polling places under the state’s prohibition on electioneering at the polls.
You also can’t wear buttons advocating for a candidate or proposal and can’t hand out pamphlets, fliers or stickers within 100 feet of polling places.
If you do wear election-related clothes or memorabilia to the polls, poll workers will still let you vote — they’ll just ask you to cover it up or take it off before entering.
What should I do if I witness voter intimidation?
Voter intimidation is a felony in Michigan. There’s no comprehensive list of what constitutes voter intimidation, but some examples include spreading false information, aggressively questioning voters, blocking voters from entering polling locations.
If you believe you’re witnessing voter intimidation at a polling location on Tuesday, you can call the Michigan Attorney General’s office at 517-335-7659 or report it via email at email@example.com.
I still haven’t registered to vote. Can I do that and vote today?
Yes. Go to your local clerk’s office and register to vote any time before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Bring an official document that proves where you live, such as a:
- Driver’s license or state ID
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government document, including a government check
You will be issued an absentee ballot to fill out and turn in there at the clerk’s office.
I still have my absentee ballot. How can I vote?
You can still submit your absentee ballot any time before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Drop your ballot off in-person at your clerk’s office or at a ballot drop box. Make sure you sign the outside envelope before dropping it off. Learn more about how to absentee vote here.
I already turned in my absentee ballot but I want to change my vote. Can I still do that?
It’s too late to “spoil” your ballot and change your vote on Election Day if you’ve already successfully cast your absentee ballot — the deadline to do so was at 10 a.m. on Monday.
What about if I never received an absentee ballot, or if I received one and haven’t turned it in yet?
If you never received a ballot, you can vote in-person on Election Day by going to your polling location and signing an affidavit saying you never received your ballot.
If you received it but haven’t turned in your ballot, you can also vote in-person on Election Day. Be sure to bring your ballot with you to the polling location — election workers will take your ballot to destroy and issue you a new one.
How can I tell if my clerk received my absentee ballot?
Enter your voter information here and check whether there is a date listed under the heading “ballot received” in the section labeled “absentee ballot.”
If there’s a date listed, the clerk received your ballot. If there is not a date listed, they did not or haven’t yet logged it into their system — call your clerk’s office to ask what your options are and ensure your vote is counted.
I chose a “straight ticket” option on my ballot and then chose candidates of the same party down-ticket. Does that invalidate my ballot? What if I chose candidates of a different party?
If you fill in the bubble for a political party under the straight ticket section, that will be the default choice for all of the partisan offices throughout the ballot — any candidate that has a political party listed under their name.
If you then choose any candidate of the opposite party, that vote will override your straight party vote for that office.
For example, if you vote Republican under the straight party option but then fill out the bubble next to Sen. Gary Peters’ name, you will have voted for President Donald Trump for president and Peters for Senate.
If you vote for a candidate of the same party, that is essentially a redundancy and will not invalidate your ballot.
The straight-party option will not apply to the nonpartisan portion of the ballot, including candidates for state Supreme Court, statewide ballot initiatives or local ballot questions. To vote for those offices, fill out the bubble next to the candidate of your choice. If left blank, you will not have voted for those offices.
When will the election results be ready?
It’s unclear exactly when election results in Michigan will be available. Benson estimated Monday that it will take up to 80 hours — more than three days — to fully count all of the absentee ballots cast statewide amid record-breaking turnout.
However, new poll workers have been hired and new high-speed ballot counting machines have been purchased over the last few months. That means those full unofficial results could be available sooner.
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