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First-Time Voters

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First-Time Voters

Every Vote Counts

Your vote matters in Michigan. Young people, students, naturalized U.S. citizens, and new Michigan residents are encouraged to vote. All eligible citizens must first register to vote, and then they will have options for how they want to cast their ballot. Follow the steps to get registered and cast your first vote in Michigan!

Information for new voters (Choose tab)

If you are at least 16 years old, a U.S. citizen, a Michigan resident, and are not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison, you can register to vote in Michigan.

As a registered Michigan voter, you cannot cast a ballot in an election until you are at least 18 years old.

If you are eligible and of-age, you will be automatically registered to vote anytime you complete a Michigan license or ID transaction with the Secretary of State, unless you opt-out. You can also register to vote online at Michigan.gov/Vote, by mail, in person at your local clerk’s office, or through any organizations that register voters.

More information for Students & Youth

College and university students have the option to register at their home address or campus address. Students can vote in person at their polling place or with an absentee ballot. Regardless of which option you choose, as a college student, it is critical that you register and vote as early as possible.

Registering with a Michigan campus address

You can update your Michigan voter registration at any time, including up to and on Election Day.

If you are already registered at your home address in Michigan, you can change the address on your voter registration to vote from your campus address instead.

When you change your address on your voter registration, it will automatically update the address listed on your driver’s license or ID. You will receive an address correction sticker or new enhanced license/ID card with your updated address upon changing your recorded address.

You can update your voter registration online at Michigan.gov/Vote up to two weeks before an election. After that date, you can only change the address at which you are registered to vote in person at your local clerk’s office with proof of residency.

Registering to vote with an out-of-state ID

You don’t need a Michigan license or ID to register to vote in Michigan. You can’t register to vote online without a Michigan license or ID, but you can do so by mail or in person at your local clerk’s office in Michigan.

If you are already registered to vote in another state, you will need to contact your local clerk in the state where you were previously registered to cancel your registration there as well.

Proof of residency

While it is best to register to vote well in advance of Election Day, eligible Michigan residents have the right to register to vote in person at their local clerk’s office up to and on Election Day. If you are registering to vote in person in the 14 days prior to an election, you must provide additional proof of residency.

Visit your local clerk’s office to present any of the following documents in paper or electronic format:

  • Any document issued by a Michigan high school, college, or university, including:
    • A webpage on your university student portal displaying your name and on-campus address (ex: Wolverine Access, StuInfo, Academica, CentralLink, Go WMU)
    • Financial aid documents
    • University registration forms
  • Bank statement
  • Utility bill (including gas, electric, internet, lease, or rental)\
  • Michigan license or ID

Voting absentee

You can cast your vote with an absentee ballot at your campus whether you are registered to vote at your home address or at school. As a registered voter, you can request an absentee ballot online at Michigan.gov/Vote, by mail, or in person at your local clerk’s office in every election for any reason.

If you decide to vote absentee, request your ballot no later than 2 weeks before an election to ensure that it arrives in time.

If you are registered to vote at your home address –Mail your absentee ballot back to your local clerk’s office no later than 2 weeks before an election so that it is received it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If you are registered to vote at your campus address – Return your absentee ballot by hand to a designated drop box in the city or township where you are registered on campus or to your local clerk’s office anytime up to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Voting at your polling place

If you are registered to vote in your campus community before Election Day and decide to vote in person, you must do so at your designated polling place.

Polling locations may vary across campus. Be sure to confirm where your designated polling location is located first at Michigan.gov/Vote before you go vote.

All polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you are in line at 8 p.m., you have the right to stay in line to vote.

More information for Students & Youth

Returning citizens can vote in Michigan!

If you are a U.S. citizen, a Michigan resident, at least 18 years old, and are not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison, you can register and vote in Michigan elections.

You can vote in Michigan if you have a past conviction, are on probation or parole, or are awaiting trail/arraignment in or outside of jail or prison.

You do not need a Michigan license or ID to register to vote by mail or in person at your local clerk’s office.

Returning citizens: You can vote

Naturalized U.S. citizens can vote!

If you are at least 16 years old and are not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison, you can register to vote as a citizen of the United States and a Michigan resident. As a registered voter, you can vote in Michigan elections starting at age 18.

Voter registration is typically offered at U.S. Naturalization ceremonies and newly naturalized U.S. citizens can also register to vote online, by mail, or in person at their clerk’s office or when renewing, replacing, or correcting their Michigan driver’s license or ID.

Establishing residency

You must be a Michigan resident to register to vote in Michigan.

When you register to vote online or at a Secretary of State office using your Michigan driver’s license or state ID, your Michigan residency is automatically verified.

However, if you register to vote within two weeks of an election, you need to provide proof that you have lived in the city or township where you are registering for at least 30 days prior to the election. To do so, visit your local clerk’s office to provide documents including your full name and current address.

You can provide a paper or digital copy of any of the following documents:

  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck or government check
  • Other government document

Canceling voter registration in another state

If you are currently registered to vote in another state, you will need to contact your local clerk’s office to cancel your voter registration there.

More information for New Michigan residents

Voting in Michigan


 

1. Voter registration

To register to vote in Michigan, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 16 years old (18 years old when you vote)
  • A Michigan resident for at least 30 days
  • Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison

Registering to vote

 

2. Options for casting your vote

All Michigan voters have the right to choose to vote in person at their polling place on Election Day or by absentee ballot by mail or in person at their clerk's office. Voters are not required to provide a reason to vote absentee.

Voting absentee

Voting in person

  • Request an absentee ballot online or by mail. All registered voters can request an absentee ballot without providing a reason.

    Apply for an absentee ballot online

    Mail-in applications for an absentee ballot

  • Request and return an absentee ballot to be tabulated on Election Day by visiting your local clerk’s office beginning 40 days before Election Day and ending at 4 p.m. on the Monday before Election Day.

    Locate your clerk’s office

  • Registered voters can request and complete a ballot at their designated polling place on Election Day between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you are in line to vote at your polling place when it closes at 8 p.m. you can still cast your ballot.

    Per Michigan law, you will be asked to show a form of ID when you check in to vote. If you don’t have one, you can still vote. If this happens, expect a poll worker to ask you to sign an affidavit before you vote that explains you didn’t have an ID. Your ballot will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

    Locate your polling place

  • Your signed and completed absentee ballot must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be tabulated. There are three ways to do so:

    • Designated dropbox: Return your absentee ballot to a secured absentee ballot dropbox in your city, township, or village by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
    • At your local clerk’s office: Return your absentee ballot by hand to your local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Check your clerk’s office website for their office hours.
    • By mail: To avoid potential mailing delays, it is strongly recommended that you mail your absentee ballot no later than 14 days prior to Election Day.

    If you requested an absentee ballot but decide to vote in person instead, you can surrender your incomplete absentee ballot at your designed polling place on Election Day and request a new ballot.

    Locate an absentee ballot dropbox

    Locate your clerk’s office

  • You can track when your local clerk mails your absentee ballot and when it is received by their office online.

    Track my absentee ballot

  • If you would like to change your vote after returning your completed and signed absentee ballot to your local clerk's office, you can "spoil" the original ballot by requesting a new ballot

    • Spoiling a ballot that has already been submitted: Your written and signed request must be received by your local clerk’s office by 5 p.m. the second Friday before Election Day. 
    • Spoiling a ballot that has not yet been submitted: Your written and signed request must be received in person by your local clerk’s office by 4 p.m. the Monday before Election Day.

3. Accessible voting

Elections and voting must be accessible. Michigan voters have the right to request an accessible voting option to cast their vote using an absentee ballot or in person at their polling location. Voters can also access translated elections and voting materials on our website.

Accessibility & accommodations

Language services

  • If you have a disability that prevents you from being able to vote by absentee ballot privately and independently, you can request an accessible, electronic absentee ballot.

    The accessible absentee ballot allows voters to mark the documents on an electronic device, using their own assistive technology, without visiting a polling place or clerk's office.

    To request an accessible absentee ballot, visit Michigan.gov/Vote or contact your local clerk to obtain and submit an accessible absentee ballot application online, by mail, or at your clerk’s office.

    Once you receive your accessible absentee ballot and have completed it electronically, print it from your device to return by mail, at a designated drop box, or in person to your local clerk’s office.

    You can request an accessible absentee ballot up 40 days ahead of an election and may submit your request up to 5 p.m. the Friday before Election Day. To avoid the potential for mailing delays, it is strongly recommended that you request your absentee ballot no later than 14 days before an election. If you plan to return your absentee ballot by mail, it is also advised that you do so as early as possible and at least two weeks before Election Day.

    If you’d like to automatically receive an accessible absentee ballot application before every election, sign up for the Permanent Accessible Absentee Voter list with your local clerk’s office.

    Request an accessible absentee ballot

    Locate your local clerk's office

  • You have the right to vote at your designated precinct polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. Should you plan to vote in person on Election Day, it is recommended that you contact your local clerk’s office in advance to ensure your polling place is free of obstructions.

    Polling places must be accessible and are required to have a Voter Assistance Terminal (VAT) on site. Election officials must consider accessibility in and around the polling place, including ensuring that doors are unlocked and that alternatives to stairs, such as ramps or elevators, are provided.

    If your site isn’t accessible, you will be directed to an alternative site that is accessible or you can request to vote curbside and have a ballot brought to you outside your designated polling place.

    Accessibility & accommodations

    Locate your local clerk’s office

  • Translated election and voting information and materials are available under the Language Services section of our website.

    Interpreters

    Michigan residents have the right to bring a non-English interpreter with them to the polls for assistance in casting a ballot.

    Your interpreter cannot influence your vote, cannot be your employer, an agent of your employer, or an officer or agent of your labor union.

    Ballot translation

    The following communities are required by law or ordinance to provide translated election materials in specific languages:

    • City of Dearborn: Arabic
    • City of Hamtramck: Bengali
    • City of Fennville: Spanish
    • Colfax Township: Spanish

    Language services

Election protection hotline

If you experience any issues casting your ballot on or before Election Day, contact the Election Protection Hotline for assistance:

  • English: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) 
  • Spanish: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) 
  • Arabic: 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) 
  • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) 

Additional information

For more information about Michigan elections, please visit Michigan.gov/Elections. For more information about how to register and vote visit Michigan.gov/Vote.