Voting Tips for College Students
First time voters
and college students often find themselves caught in the technicalities
of MI election laws. Here are a few tips for college students
in Michigan to help guide you through:
You can register to vote in the State of Michigan
if you are:
1.) 18 (or will turn 18 by
the date of the next election)
2.) a U.S.
3.) a resident of the State
Where to register: If you are eligible to vote in Michigan,
you must register where you maintain your principal residence in the
state. As a college student, you can
register from your campus address or the address where you previously resided
before moving to campus (provided that you still view your previous address as
your “principal” residence in the state).
Line: MI will only keep one registration address so you have to
choose whether home or school is going to be your "principal
The 30 Day
Rule: Always keep in mind that almost any change you
make to your voter registration status will take 30 days to get
through the system. Give your clerk enough time to get you
onto the voter file before an election, or plan to vote at home
if you change your address the day before the election. If
you don't get your new registration in 30 days before an
election, you aren't going to vote.
How to register: You can register by visiting any Secretary
of State branch office or your local city or township clerk’s
office. You can also register to vote by mail. Michigan’s
mail-in voter registration application form can be downloaded
If you register to vote by mail, you must appear in person
to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate. Therefore, if you anticipate that you will
need an absent voter ballot for the first election in which you participate
after registering, registering through a Secretary of State branch office or
your local clerk’s office is recommended.
(Additional information on the absent voter ballot application process
The Bottom Line: If you plan
to register by mail, plan to show up on election day. If you haven't
already voted and want to vote absentee, plan to drop in on the clerk to
Other things you need to know: The law requires Michigan
residents to use the same residential address for both vote registration and
driver license purposes. Therefore, if
the address you submit on a voter registration application does not match the
address on your driver license, the Department of State will mail you an
address update sticker for your driver license.
(The address update sticker will be handed to you if you register to
vote in a Secretary of State branch office.)
Regardless of the address you use for voter registration and
driver license purposes, you can maintain a separate “mailing address” if you
wish to receive mail pertaining to your voter registration and driver license
at a different address.
You are free to change your voter registration/driver
license address as frequently as needed.
No fees are assessed for address changes.
The Bottom Line: Since MI only
keeps one "principal address" on record for your driver's license and your voter
registration, if you change one, you'll change them both. You can tell where you're expected to vote if your driver's license is current.
HAVE IT ROUGH. Because of new federal law (the Help America
Vote Act passed after the election difficulties in 2000) first-time
voters in Michigan should plan to vote in person.
There are a series of complicated exceptions, but for the
most part, if you've never voted before, don't plan
on voting absentee.
may have to show ID at the polls, depending
on how you registered. Details can be found here,
but the basic idea is that unless you showed ID to an actual
election official when you registered, do not assume you are
safe: bring ID.
voter registration card does not count as ID.
A Michigan Driver's License counts, and you can also bring
a utility bill in your name at your registered address. The
rest of the official list is here.
Line: First-Time Voters in Michigan should plan to vote in
person (if that means you have to go home on election day,
make plans to GO HOME), and you should bring ID.
VOTERS may obtain
an absentee ballot.
absent voter ballots: If you expect to be absent
from the city or township where you are registered to vote
for the entire time the polls are open on election day (7:00
a.m. to 8:00 p.m.), you can obtain an absent voter ballot
by submitting a written request to the clerk of the city of
township who holds your voter registration.
Your written request must include your signature and
the address where you wish to receive your ballot.
A preprinted absent voter ballot application form can
be obtained through your city or township clerk’s office upon
The Bottom Line: Your local
election clerk is your best bet at getting through this process. You can
find your clerk
Election Fraud: Is a
Federal Offense. Occasionally people try to vote more than once.
Don't. It's not even remotely worth the penalty.
Additional information: Additional information on registering and
voting in Michigan can be found
Voter registration and election participation rates among 18 to 24 years
old are the lowest for any age