Michigan August primary 2020: election guide, absentee ballots, and staying safe while voting in person

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Michigan’s primary will be Tuesday, Aug. 4, in the middle of a pandemic and an unprecedented number of voters have already submitted their ballots by mail thanks to a change to state law approved in 2018.

Michigan Primary Election races to watch and results for Aug. 4, 2020


On August 4, you'll be searching everywhere for the races that matter the most to you.

Check back to this page on Tuesday for results.


Proposal 18-3 was approved by voters in 2018, allowing people to vote by mail for any reason. Two years later, that law has made it possible for everyone who does not feel comfortable voting in person to still exercise their Constitutional right.

In May, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that applications for absentee ballots would be mailed to every registered Michigan voter. That decision was done after 98% of all voters in early May voted by absentee ballot.

There are 7.7 million registered voters in Michigan and, prior to the pandemic, 1.3 million had already registered to vote by mail.

At this point, if you have not returned your application to vote by mail, it’s too late to drop in the mailbox. However, you can still drop it off at your clerk's office. You can also request an absentee ballot at your local clerk’s office as well - as long as it’s before 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 3.

Go to the state's site here to find your clerk. You must request an absent voter ballot by submitting the application, large print application, a letter, a postcard, or a pre-printed application form obtained from your local clerk's office. Requests may be returned by hand, via postal mail, fax, or email, as long as a signature is visible. 

If you already have your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to complete and return it to the clerk's office, or it will not be counted.


If you’ve changed your mind about who you want to vote for, that’s okay. You can still change it by spoiling your ballot. 

To do that, you have to go to your clerk's office (which you can find here) and make sure they know you want to recast your ballot. 

You have to submit a written request to your clerk that's signed and asking for a new ballot or if you wish to vote on Election Day at the polls. To spoil your vote, you have to get your request into the clerk's office by 2 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day (Aug. 1) or you can go in person to the clerk's office by Monday, Aug. 3rd.


If you prefer to vote in person, that’s still allowed and the state is preparing to take multiple steps for enhanced cleanliness and safety. The Secretary of State’s office said social distancing will be in place and safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of voters and election workers.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey has said gloves, thermometers, masks, and wipes will all be provided to workers to protect them and voters.

When you vote, you are not required to wear a mask but you are encouraged to do so. 


Firstly, don't sign up at your precinct without making sure you're registered. How would you know? It's easy. The state of Michigan has a page titled "Are you Registered". You can check if you are registered to vote by clicking here.

You can search by your name, birth month, and year or by entering your driver's license information. Not only will you ensure you're registered to vote, but it will also list WHERE you will vote. Which is just as important.

Michigan allows same-day voter registration, which means you can register with your city or township clerk through March 9, you just have to validate your residency, which means bring your license or ID card, current utility bill, paycheck, or another government document.

If you're not sure who your clerk is, that's easy too. Just check out the state's site here.


The polls open at 7 a.m. sharp on Election Day and, while you'll probably be looking at your phone while waiting in line - you should review your ballot then, too. Using the state's link to review your registration, you can see everything you're going to be voting on.

There are no statewide ballot proposals in this primary election, so you'll predominantly be voting for the Democratic OR Republican Presidential Primary. You must pick one party before you vote.

Click here to submit your county, jurisdiction, and precinct to see what your ballot will look like on Election Day. While you will receive instructions on how to fill the ballot out at the polls, you can read them beforehand.


Other helpful information:

  • You can't wear items like buttons or T-shirts with election-related materials to the polls. You'll be asked to cover it or remove it.
  • You don't have to fill out the entire ballot for your votes to count.
  • You cannot use cameras, video or still, at the polls while they're open. 


Still have questions? Check out the Secretary of State's frequently asked questions. If you still haven't found an answer, click here to find your clerk, who you can contact for specific questions.