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What Voters Need to Know in the Final Days to Cast Ballots

In the final days that voters can cast ballots in the presidential election, here are the critical pieces of information voters need to know. Michiganders can check their registration, find their local clerk offices, drop boxes and polling place, and track their absentee ballot at the state’s official website.

Registration through Election Day: Eligible citizens can register to vote and then vote an absentee ballot in one trip to their city or township clerk’s office now through Election Day, Nov. 3. As long as they are in line by 8 p.m. on Election Day they must be allowed to register and vote. To register within 14 days of the election, a voter must bring a document verifying residency, like a utility bill, school ID or government mail with their address (digital copies are acceptable).

Early Voting by Absentee Ballot at City or Township Clerk’s Office: City and township clerk offices are required to be open at least eight hours this weekend, and will be open Monday as well. Registered voters can request and submit absentee ballots in one trip. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.

Return Absentee Ballots ASAP: Voters who have an absentee ballot already should fill it out, sign the back of the envelope and hand-deliver it to their city or township clerk’s office or drop box as soon as possible, and no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Voters must bring their ballot to a drop box in their jurisdiction.

Track Absentee Ballots: Voters can track their absentee ballot to determine when it was sent to them and, after they’ve submitted it, if it was received at

Missing Absentee Ballot: If a voter requested an absentee ballot and it never arrived or they lost it, they should go to their clerk’s office immediately to request and submit one in person. If they cannot do so due to health reasons, they should contact their clerk immediately.

Requested Absentee but Want to Vote at Polls: If a voter requested and received an absentee ballot but decided they would prefer to vote at their polling place, they should bring the absentee ballot with them to the polls. Once there, they can surrender it for a new ballot that they will fill out and place in the tabulation machine.

Submitted Absentee Ballot but Want to Change Vote: Voters who already submitted an absentee ballot but want to change or cancel their vote should go to their city or township clerk’s office as soon as possible, and no later than 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. On Election Day, voters who have already cast an absentee ballot will not be able to change or cancel it.

Polling Places Will Be Safe, Clean and Accessible: Masks, gloves, sanitizer, and protocols for hygiene and social distancing have been provided to election jurisdictions statewide. Election workers are required to wear masks and voters are strongly encouraged to do so. All polling places must have Voter Assist Terminals for any voter who wants to use one.

Voter Intimidation is Illegal: Anyone who experiences or witnesses voter intimidation, harassment or coercion of any kind should report it immediately to an election worker or their election clerk’s office. Intimidating a voter with a firearm or any other weapon or menacing behavior is a felony under existing law enforceable by local law enforcement.

All Valid Absentee Ballots Will Be Counted Fairly: To be valid, absentee ballots must be received by the voter’s city or township clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day on Nov. 3, and have a signature that matches the one on the voter’s file with the clerk. Absentee ballots are counted by pairs of election workers – one from each major political party – to ensure they are counted without political bias and in accordance with the law.

Complete Election Results Won’t Come Tuesday: Absentee ballots take longer to process and count than ballots cast at polling places. And unlike other states, Michigan law provides very limited ability for clerks to prepare them ahead of Election Day. Because of this, and the significant increase in voters casting absentee ballots, it could take until Friday, Nov. 6, for all ballots to be counted. Depending on how close the races are, this likely means that outcomes will not be determined on Tuesday.

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