WMU Home > WMU News >

WMU News

Student FAQs on voting by absentee ballot

Oct. 8, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University students who are registered to vote in Michigan have until 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, to request absentee ballots for the upcoming general election from their city or township clerks. But, those who wait until the last minute run the risk of not having enough time to return the completed ballot by the Election Day deadline.

Absentee voting is done by mail-in paper ballot. Some states allow any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot, while other states, including Michigan, require that one of several criteria be met to vote absentee. Some states require that absentee ballots be notarized or signed by a witness; Michigan does not.

In general, registered voters can vote by absentee ballot if they will be unable to vote in person on Election Day. Students away at college can almost always vote by absentee ballot in the hometown where they are registered to vote.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about absentee voting. These answers apply to absentee voting in Michigan. Students with other home states need to check the requirements in their states and can do that by visiting www.longdistancevoter.org.

Q: Who is allowed to vote by absentee ballot in Michigan?

A: As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot if one of the following applies.

  • You expect to be out of the town where you are registered the entire time the polls are open on Election Day.
  • You are unable to vote without assistance at the polls.
  • You are 60 years of age or older.
  • You are unable to attend the polls for religious reasons.
  • You have been appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
  • You are in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

Q: How do you request an Absent Voter Ballot Application?

A: Your request for an Absent Voter Ballot must be in writing and submitted to the city or township clerk for the community where you are registered to vote. For assistance in obtaining the address of your city or township clerk, visit www.michigan.gov/vote.

By going to www.michigan.gov/vote and clicking Absentee Voting, you can find an Absent Voter Ballot Application that you can download and print. You also may pick up an application at any clerk's office anywhere in the state. You do not need to use an official application, but using one helps assure that you provide all the required information.

Absent Voter Ballot Application [PDF]

Your request for an Absent Voter Ballot must be received by clerk's office in your home voting district no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election.

Q: When do Absent Voter Ballots have to be turned in?

A: Your Absent Voter Ballot must be received by Election Day, Nov. 4, in the clerk's office for the community in which you are registered to vote. Mail your absentee ballot as soon as possible to help assure that it arrives by Election Day. The ballot may also be personally delivered to the clerk's office, but only by you, a family member or person residing in your household. Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature on file.

Q: Do you have to vote in person if it is your first time voting?

A: A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. If you registered to vote in person at the clerk's office, then you may vote by mail the first time. This restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are handicapped or voters who are 60 years of age or older.

Q: Can I vote absentee if there is an emergency, and I cannot make it to the polls?

A: If an emergency, such as a sudden illness or family death prevents you from reaching the polls on Election Day, you may request an emergency absentee voter ballot. Requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after the deadline for regular absentee voter ballots has passed but before 4 p.m. on Election Day. Contact your local clerk.

For more information about absentee voting in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/vote and click Absentee Voting in the left column. For information from all 50 states on absentee voting, visit www.longdistancevoter.org.

For more voter information, visit www.wmich.edu/vote.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400