Michiganders head to the polls today — amid a national pandemic — to participate in the state's primary election. Hundreds of seats are up for grabs as Republicans and Democrats vie for their party's nomination.

Here are a few tips to safely and securely vote in person.


When do Michigan polls open?

Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you’re in line by 8 p.m., you’re legally still allowed to vote.

Wait, people are still voting in person despite COVID-19?

Yes. Although some clerks have had issues finding enough poll workers, precincts should be open on Election Day. Contact your local elections official if you have questions about where you should vote.

The office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said it has provided local elections officials with masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies. They've also shared protocols to help ensure equipment is regularly cleaned and voters practice social distancing.

Do I get to vote for president?

No, that happened in March. This primary is for essentially any other partisan offices in Michigan, including national, state and local elected positions.

I see there are Republicans and Democrats on this ballot. May I vote for both?

No. During a primary election, voters need to choose to vote for candidates from only one party. Ballots that have votes cast in both the Democratic and Republican primaries will not be counted.

Do I need a mask at the polls?

You do not. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order does not require masks at polling places. But she recommends people wear a facial covering if they decide to cast a ballot in person.

Why is a mask not mandatory?

Whitmer weighed making masks at the polls mandatory. But, ultimately, she said there were legal concerns about infringing on a person's right to vote.

Will my polling place be safe?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Clerks in Detroit, Saginaw and other cities have indicated they are training poll workers on how to effectively sanitize everything from voting machines to the pens used to cast a vote. While masks and social distancing is strongly encouraged for voters, it is not required. Poll workers will be wearing masks and in many jurisdictions may have masks to provide voters who need them.

When's the safest time to go to the polls?

While there is no guaranteed safe time, health experts said it's best to try and go during traditionally slower times, such as midmorning or midafternoon. Those times are less busy in part because people tend to vote before work, after work or at lunch.

With millions working from home though — and more than 1.28 million voting by mail — there's no guarantee when your polling place will be less packed. If you can, try to budget some extra time to wait a safe distance to vote, or come back if you feel the polling place is too crowded.

I forgot to register to vote. Am I out of luck?

You are not. Michigan allows same-day voter registration. That means up to and through Election Day, you can go to your local clerk, register and cast a ballot. But you’ll need to be eligible to vote — a U.S. citizen and Michigan resident who is at least 18 years old and not serving a jail or prison sentence — and complete an application. Registration requires bringing paperwork with you that verifies where you live. According to the Secretary of State, eligible documents include:

Michigan driver’s license or State ID card Current utility bill Bank statement Paycheck or government check Other government document

I requested an absentee ballot but it never arrived. Am I out of luck?

You're still able to vote! Anyone who has requested — but not received — their absentee ballot may go vote in person on Election Day. You'll need to sign an affidavit confirming you never received an absentee ballot.

Once a voter does this, even if an absentee ballot from the same person is received by the clerk, the absentee ballot will not be counted.

I mailed my absentee ballot, but I'm not sure it was received by the clerk. Now that it's Election Day, what should I do?

It's all about timing. You can check to see if your ballot was received by going to www.Michigan.gov/vote and entering in your personal information.

If the ballot is still in the mail, and you're unsure it will make it to your clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day, go vote in person, the Secretary of State's office advises. If your ballot was received and you try to vote, the state voting rolls will show your ballot was received and the election worker at your polling place will not let you vote.

If your ballot was not received at that point, you'll be able to vote. If you vote in person and your absentee ballot arrives at the clerk's office a few hours later, the absentee ballot will not count.

I really want to vote, but I honestly cannot remember if I’m registered or where I’m supposed to vote and I have no idea what I do with an absentee ballot. I need help!

The Michigan Voter Information Center, operated by the Secretary of State, has information to help people understand everything they need to do to cast a ballot.

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