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What’s new in state voting process?

Vote here sign on Michigan State University's campus
Many of the changes to Michigan’s elections process were brought about by Proposal 2 of 2022, a voter-approved ballot initiative that added new voting rules to the state constitution. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan has several new voting laws for 2024 because of a voter-approved ballot initiative and the Democratic-led Legislature
  • New rules include in-person early voting, expanded of absentee ballot options and teen pre-registration
  • Other new laws aim to protect poll workers and shore up the election certification process

There are several new laws and procedures in place for Michigan elections in 2024, including the option for voters to cast their ballots in person well before Election Day begins.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan’s Democratic-majority Legislature approved dozens of new election rules last year, implementing several reforms brought on by a 2022 voter-approved constitutional amendment and others they argue will make the process more accessible to voters and prevent chaos.


Although some of the new policies had bipartisan support, many Republicans opposed most of them, claiming they could compromise election security. 


The new in-person voting rules Michigan in line with 21 other states that offer the option and builds off of reforms passed by voters in 2018 that allowed every voter the option of casting an absentee ballot. 

The state’s first test of early voting came in the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary, where 78,000 voters cast ballots in person before Election Day. At the time, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and other election officials said the process went smoothly overall and would likely get more popular with voters in future elections. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest changes voters may notice in the 2024 cycle. 

Early voting 

Local clerks are now required to provide at least nine days of early voting for eight hours a day ahead of statewide elections, starting the second Saturday before an election until the Sunday before the election. 

Although voters in recent cycles could request, fill out and file an absentee ballot in person, early voters this year will experience the voting booths, poll workers and “I Voted” stickers synonymous with Election Day. They’ll also get to personally feed their ballot into a tabulator that will count it. 

Clerks can allow longer periods of early voting if they choose, as the proposal and subsequent implementation laws allow for up to 29 days of early voting for statewide elections. 

Absentee ballot tracking, processing

No-reason absentee voting, approved by voters in 2018, has become a popular option for casting ballots in Michigan — more than 1.6 million voters requested absentee ballots in weeks prior to the 2022 general election. 

Starting this year, voters can sign up for email or text alerts to track the status of their ballots once they’re submitted. 

The more stringent tracking system also requires election officials to notify voters if their absentee application or ballot was rejected, along with the reason for doing so and how to resolve any issues. 

From a procedural standpoint, cities and townships of any size are now allowed to process and tabulate absentee ballots between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the Monday before Election Day, or on any of the eight days prior to Election Day if the municipality has over 5,000 residents. 

However, they cannot report any results until polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.  

Permanent absentee voting

Instead of submitting a new absentee ballot application for every election cycle, voters can opt to vote by mail in every election with a single application.

Registered voters who choose this option will get absentee ballots for all future elections unless they rescind their application, move without updating their registration address or don’t vote for six consecutive years. 


Voters can apply online and opt into the permanent program through the Secretary of State or by contacting their local clerk’s office. 

Don’t worry about finding a stamp, either — the changes also require election officials to provide pre-paid postage for absentee ballot-related mail. 

Teen pre-registration

The voting age is still 18, but 16- and 17-year-olds in Michigan will be able to pre-register to vote so they are automatically registered upon turning 18.

The option is available until a teen is less than six months from turning 18, at which point they’d have to wait to register until their birthday. 

Election certification guardrails

New laws governing election certification align Michigan with the federal Electoral Count Reform Act, which was introduced in Congress with a handful of GOP co-sponsors and signed last year by Democratic President Joe Biden.

Among other things, the federal law makes clear that the vice president has a “ministerial” duty to count electoral votes that states send to Congress, contradicting former President Donald Trump’s claim that Mike Pence could and should have blocked certification of the 2020 presidential election.

The new Michigan law similarly states that partisan election canvassers at both the county and state levels have a "ministerial, clerical, and nondiscretionary duty" to certify results based on results compiled by local clerks.

The Michigan measure also speeds up the timeline for completing the post-election canvass and clarifies that only the governor can submit a list of presidential electors to congress. It also changes the nominating process for the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers. 

Disclaimers for deep fakes 

New this year, Michigan officials are aiming to deter “deep fakes” in political campaigning as artificial intelligence becomes more convincing. 

New laws require disclaimers on any campaign ads or political content that were digitally altered using A.I. Failure to do so could lead to stiff criminal penalties. Supporters of the changes feared if left unchecked, such content could be used to spread false information in a way that influences election results. 

More time for military votes to count

Absentee ballots cast by military or overseas voters will be given more time to count starting in 2024, even if they arrive after Election Day.

Typically, the deadline for voting is 8 p.m. on the day of an election. But under new election laws, if an out-of-country or military vote was postmarked on or before Election Day, and received by a clerk within six days of the election, the ballot would be added to the final count. 

Voter ID

Lawmakers last year approved legislation to expand what forms of voter identification are accepted at the polls. Options include a voter’s U.S. passport, tribal photo identification, military identification or a student ID in addition to a person’s driver’s license. 

Voters without identification on their person are still allowed to sign an affidavit confirming their identity to cast their ballot, a controversial rule opposed by Republicans that was enshrined into the constitution under 2022’s Proposal 2. 

Protections for poll workers 

A new law will make it a crime to intimidate or otherwise threaten election workers in an attempt to stop them from performing their duties. Penalties would start at 93 days in jail and up to a $500 fine for a first offense. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in a November press conference, said the changes will “protect the people who protect democracy” and combat an uptick of election worker intimidation that has escalated in recent cycles.  

Other legislation signed last year created an option for prospective election workers to apply online

More drop boxes, fewer precincts

Every Michigan municipality is now required to have at least one secure ballot drop box for absentee voters in future elections, with an additional drop box for every 15,000 registered voters. 


Separate legislation increases the maximum size of an election precinct from 2,999 active registered voters to 5,000. 

Paid transport to polls

Another newly-signed law repeals a ban on hired transportation to voting booths, an 1895 law believed to have been the only one of its kind left in the country. 

Ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft had cited the law for not offering discounted rides to polls, as the companies do in other states, and the ban had long been the subject of legal disputes.

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