NewsKnow the Law


Know the Law – Election Law

Posted at 9:04 AM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 09:05:14-04

With election season just around the corner, Grand Rapids attorney Tom Sinas is breaking down Michigan voting laws and how they affect you at the polls.

Register to Vote by October 9, 2018
Almost everyone can agree that voting is one of the most important fundamentals of our democracy. But you have to first register to vote in order to cast a ballot. Michigan voting laws mandate a 30-day registration period, which is one of the longest periods of any state in the country. In fact, some states allow voters to register the day-of. Michigan’s registration period ends on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. You must be registered by that time in order to vote on November 6.

How to Register to Vote
While we can basically do everything online these days, registering to vote isn’t one of them. You can get the voter registration form from the Secretary of State’s website, but Michigan voting laws require that you fill it out and deliver it to your township’s clerk’s office to register.

Michigan Voting Laws – Identification
Michigan doesn’t necessarily have a hard and fast rule regarding voter identification. When you show up at the polls, you will be asked for an ID. This can be a state issued driver’s license, passport, or even a student ID. If you forget all of these types of identification, you are still allowed to vote by filling out an affidavit which basically says you are who you say you are.

On the 2018 Michigan Ballot
One big change voters will notice this year is there is no a straight-party voting option. You cannot simply check a box to vote for every Republican candidate or Democratic candidate. This means you have to manually go down your ballot and vote for each individual separately.

Also of note this year is the election of judges. We will be voting for Circuit Court judges, Court of Appeals judges, and Michigan Supreme Court Justices. Judges and Justices aren’t identified on the ballots by party affiliation regardless of their endorsements.

Finally, pay attention to the ballot proposals. Language regarding these proposals will be available in the voter box, but actual ballot wording can be confusing. The best thing is to educate yourself before heading to vote.

Learn more about the laws that affect Michigan residents at