Voting 101: What You Need To Know

The November 3rd general election is only weeks away. As you’ve heard, we are in unprecedented times. So, this year it’s important to be informed and prepared. Detroit Mom has got you covered with everything you need to know before casting your vote.  

Every Vote Counts

Did you know that in 2016 only 10,704 (or 0.23%) votes separated Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton in Michigan?

In the 2016 election, President Trump won Michigan with 47.5% (2,279,543) of the vote, compared to Hilary Clinton receiving 47.27% (2,268,839) of the vote, while third party and write-in candidates took 5.23% (250,902) of the vote. With margins this razor thin, you can see that every vote counted here in Michigan when it came down to deciding the winner of our 16 electoral votes. Since Michigan is considered a swing state, it is likely that the 2020 election results will be close in our state once again.   

Only 63% of registered Michigan voters voted in the 2016 general election. There can be many reasons why people chose not to vote, but we want to break down the barriers and the confusion to give you the facts in hopes that ALL of you have your voices heard on November 3rd. 

Important Dates to Know

  • Early In-Person Voting: September 24-November 2
  • Online Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, October 19
  • Absentee Voter Application Deadline: Friday, October 30 (5 p.m.)
  • Election Day: Tuesday, November 3 (7 a.m.-8 p.m. EST)
  • Absentee Ballot Submission Deadline: Postmarked by Monday, November 2 OR Tuesday, November 3 by 8pm at the clerk’s office.

Register to Vote

You can register at any time up to 8 p.m. on Election Day in person at your city or township clerk’s office. Not sure you are registered to vote? Checking is easy! Just head here. All you will need to do is put in your name, birth month and year, and zip code. The system will populate if you are registered or not. It literally takes 30 seconds. 

If you’re not already registered to vote, this is a great place to start. Already registered? Skip to the next step! Registering to vote in the state of Michigan can be done online or by mail by filling out this form. Read on to find out what you’ll need before starting the process.

What You’ll Need for Registration:

  • A Valid Driver’s License (It cannot have been changed in the last 10 days.)
  • Drivers License or State ID Number
  • Social Security Number
  • Address

Already registered? Click here so you can get important information such as your polling location, view a sample ballot, and get information about your clerk’s office and drop box locations. 

Next, let’s discuss absentee ballots, polling locations, and getting reliable political information.

Voting Absentee/Vote By Mail

There is a lot of information circulating this year about voting absentee (otherwise known as vote by mail). Voting by mail is safe and easy. Since we’re still in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic, not everyone will feel safe going to the polls. The wonderful thing is that EVERYONE IS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE BY MAIL IN MICHIGAN! Amazing, right? There are several ways to register to do this. 

Over the summer, the State of Michigan mailed an application for an absentee ballot to every registered voter. If you didn’t receive an application via mail or lost it, no problem. You can apply online or download the application and then mail, email, or personally deliver it to your local clerk. You can find your local clerk’s address, e-mail address, and phone number by going to

Things You Need to Know About Absentee Ballots:

  • As of 2018, you do not need a reason to vote by mail in the State of Michigan.
  • Michigan’s deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 30 at 5 p.m., however the USPS has advised that ballots should be requested fifteen days prior (October 15th) or it may not be received in time. If you are running tight on time, you can even request an absentee ballot at your local clerk’s office by 4 p.m. on November 2nd. 
  • You can submit your absentee ballot at your local clerk’s drop box, in person at the clerk’s office, or via USPS.
  • Your completed absentee ballot must be received by your city or township clerk by 8 p.m. on November 3rd.
  • Did you know that you can track the status of your absentee ballot? Simply visit this site to double check that your ballot was received.
  • If you wish to change your vote, you can spoil your ballot by sending in a request to your city or township clerk. You must do this by mail, by 2 p.m. the Saturday before election or in person by 4 p.m. the Monday before election.
  • Due to the increase in absentee ballots nationwide, it’s likely that we won’t know the final election results for days (if not weeks) after the election. 

Voting In Person

If you would prefer to cast your ballot in person, you can head to the polls on Tuesday, November 3rd. The polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. EST. Not sure where your polling place is? It’s easy, just click here to find out. 

Curious what you need to bring with you to the polls? You will be asked to show ID when you check in to vote. However, if you don’t have one, you will still be able to vote. If this happens, expect a poll worker to ask you to sign a form before you vote that explains you didn’t have an ID. Your ballot will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Early Voting

If you are not comfortable mailing your absentee ballot or waiting in line at the polls on election day, you can always vote early directly at your clerk’s office. You can request a ballot and vote all in one trip any time before the election. 


If you would prefer to see both candidates face to face, you can watch them debate. There are two more Presidential debates and one Vice Presidential debate left. (Dates are subject to change due to the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.)

  • Vice Presidential Debate: Wednesday, October 7 @ 9pm EST
  • Presidential Debate: Thursday, October 15 @ 9pm EST
  • Presidential Debate: Thursday, October 22 @ 9pm EST

Reliable Candidate Information

It’s important to read reliable and accurate information when researching the candidates on the ballot. Check out these sites for reliable and non-partisan information:

Still have questions? You can visit the Secretary of State website for more information and FAQ’s.

Now that you know the facts, your next step is ACTION.

Register, VOTE, and have your voice heard on November 3rd.


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