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Information for youth and young people
In Michigan, you drive at age 16, vote in elections at age 18, and are required to renew your license or ID in person at a Secretary of State office at age 21. The following information provides an overview for young people who are preparing to start driving, become a registered voter, and complete other Secretary of State transactions during this time.
Registering to vote
To be eligible to vote, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 17.5 years old (18 when you vote)
- A Michigan resident (at the time you register)
- A resident of your city or township for at least 30 days (when you vote)
- Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison
If you have a Michigan license or ID and are eligible to register to vote, you’ll be registered automatically when you turn 17.5 or if you complete a license or ID transaction after this age, unless you opt-out.
How to register
If you’re eligible, you can register to vote online, by mail, or in person at your local city, township, or village clerk’s office.
- License and ID requirements: You don’t need a Michigan license or ID to register to vote by mail or in person. A Michigan license or ID is required to register to vote or update your voter registration online.
- Registering online: You can register to vote online up to two weeks before an election at Michigan.gov/Vote.
- Same-day registration: While it is strongly advised that you don’t wait to register to vote before an election, under Michigan law, you can register to vote in person at your local clerk’s office up to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Updating voter registration
Before Election Day, check to make sure your voter registration is accurate. You can correct your address on your voter registration online or by mail up to two weeks before an election or visit your clerk’s office to provide official proof of residency up to and on Election Day.
Participating in elections
Per Michigan law, to vote in an election, you must be:
- A registered Michigan voter
- At least 18 years old
- Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison
As a registered Michigan voter, you can vote in person at your designated polling place or request an absentee ballot to vote from home or at your local clerk’s office.
Any registered Michigan voter can request an absentee ballot and isn’t required to provide a reason for doing so.
You can request an absentee ballot online, by mail, or at your local clerk’s office up to 40 days before an election or by signing up to receive an absentee ballot application automatically before every election.
To ensure your absentee ballot is counted, it needs to be returned to your local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Voting in person
You can vote in person at your polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you’re in line to vote at 8 p.m. when polls close, you still have the right to cast a ballot and vote.
Bring a photo ID with you to the polls. If you don’t have one, you can instead sign an affidavit of identity to cast a ballot.
You can locate your designated polling place at Michigan.gov/Vote.
Per state law, you can start driver’s education as early as age 14-and-8-months and can apply for your first graduated driver's license at age 14-and-9-months.
- Drivers under 18: To apply for your first license, you will need to complete and pass the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, which includes driver’s education (Segments 1 and 2), three licensing levels, and supervised practice driving with a licensed adult.
- Drivers age 18+: Once you turn 18, you’re not required to take driver’s education to apply for a driver’s license. Instead, you will need to complete and pass a driver knowledge exam at a Secretary of State office and practice driving for 30 days with a licensed adult before contacting a driver testing business to complete and pass an driving skills test.
Regardless of your age, in most cases, you will only need to visit a Secretary of State once to provide all required documents and take a photo for your license.
The Michigan Department of State will mail you a corrected vertical driver’s license when you successfully complete GDL.
Renewing your license or ID at 21
Driver’s licenses and IDs expire every 4 years. You’re required to visit a Secretary of State office to renew your license or ID in person to take a new photo when you turn 21.
- If you renew more that 50 days before your 21st birthday, your renewed license or ID will be vertically oriented.
- If you renew within 50 days of your 21st birthday, your renewed license or ID will be horizontally oriented and won’t arrive in the mail until after your birthday.
In most cases, you will only be required to renew your license or ID at a Secretary of State to take a new photo every 12 years after renewing in person at 21.
The next time you need to renew your license or ID, you may do so online, by mail, or at a self-service station.
Changing your address
As a policy, the Michigan Department of State will send any necessary mail or correspondence to the residential address on your license/ID or registered address on your vehicle registration, if you have a vehicle that’s registered in Michigan.
If you’re moving or need to use a different a mailing address, update the address on your license, ID, vehicle registration, and/or voter registration, or add a mailing address online or by mail.
If you are a registered Michigan voter, updating your address on your license or ID will automatically update the address on your voter registration, and vice versa.
Visiting a Secretary of State office
Most Secretary of State services can be completed online or by mail, and many are available at self-service stations across the state. There are only a handful of transactions that require you to visit a Secretary of State office, including:
- Applying for your first license, ID, or permit
- Renewing your license or ID at 21, and (in most cases) every 12 years following, to take a new photo
- Converting a standard license or ID to REAL ID
- Applying for an enhanced license or ID
- Correcting your name or sex designation on your license or ID
- Transferring a vehicle title and registering a vehicle for the first time
- Transferring a vehicle license plate
- Completing a test
When you are required to visit a Secretary of State office it’s strongly recommended that you schedule a visit in advance. You can schedule a visit up to 6 months ahead of time or for the next business day.