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Here’s how to make sure your Michigan absent voter ballot is not rejected

US presidential election is Nov. 3, 2020

A Michigan absent voter ballot envelope
A Michigan absent voter ballot envelope

With only 14 days left until Election Day, voting is well underway in Michigan with early in-person voting and voting by mail.

If you’re voting by mail in Michigan this election, it’s important to fill out your ballot correctly to ensure that it is counted. Certain errors, such as using the wrong color pen or omitting a signature, can cause your ballot to be “rejected” and tossed aside.

Below we’ll explain how to properly fill out your Michigan absent voter ballot so that it is counted in the General Election.

Note: Returning your completed absent voter ballot on time is also essential to ensure your vote is counted. The Michigan Secretary of State is urging all voters to return their completed absent voter ballots in person to their local clerk’s office, instead of returning them by mail.

All absent voter ballots must be received by your local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, which is November 3.

Filling out your Michigan absent voter ballot

It’s important to be cautious and follow directions precisely when filling out a Michigan absent voter ballot to ensure it is counted on Election Day.

Making a mistake on your absent voter ballot would require you to obtain a new one and start over -- which can pose issues the closer it gets to Election Day.

Inside of your official Michigan absent voter ballot envelope is a brightly-colored “secrecy sleeve” containing your ballot. Directions for filling out the ballot are included on the front of the sleeve.

Here are the directions for filling out your Michigan absent voter ballot for the General Election, as listed on the secrecy sleeve:

  • TO VOTE: Completely darken the oval opposite each choice as shown.
  • IMPORTANT: To mark your ballot, use only a black or blue ink pen. Do not use any other ink color.
  • PARTISAN SECTION: There may be multiple party sections on the ballot. Select the party section of your choice.
  • Note: You can “split” your ticket when voting in the November General Election. A voter participating in a November General Election who wishes to cast a “split” ticket can vote for individual candidates of his or her choice under any party.
  • DO NOT vote for more candidates than indicated under each office title.
  • WRITE-IN CANDIDATES: To vote for a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot, write or place the name of that candidate in the blank space provided and completely darken the voting target area. Do not cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name is already printed on the ballot for that office.
  • CHECK BOTH SIDES OF BALLOT: The ballot may have two sides. Be certain to check the reverse side of the ballot.
  • WHEN YOU HAVE COMPLETED VOTING: Place the ballot in the secrecy sleeve so that votes cannot be seen and the numbered stub is visible.
  • NOTE: If you make a mistake, return your ballot to the election official and obtain a new ballot. Do not attempt to erase or correct any marks made in error.

A stub is located at the top of the ballot containing numerical information needed by the clerk’s office to identify your ballot. If the stub detaches from your absentee ballot while you are filling it out, you must include the stub with your ballot when it is returned.

How to make sure your absent voter ballot is not rejected in Michigan

As more people choose to vote by mail in the 2020 General Election, it is important to make sure that ballots are filled out properly so that they are not rejected during the counting process.

In the 2020 Michigan Primary Election on August 4, about 10,000 mail-in ballots were rejected primarily due to signature verification issues or late arrival. Other reasons ballots were rejected include wrong address, wrong signature (signature didn’t match), empty envelope or unconfirmed ID.

Here are a few things to remember to ensure your Michigan absent voter ballot is not rejected in the 2020 General Election:

  • Carefully follow the instructions provided when filling out the ballot at home. Making a mistake will either cause the ballot to be rejected, or force you to obtain a new ballot and start again.
  • Make sure the completed ballot is located inside of the envelope before returning it. (This seems obvious, but just trust us! Double check before sealing your return envelope.)
  • Be sure to sign the back of the envelope that contains your absent voter ballot. This signature is expected to match your state-documented signature.
  • Ensure your completed absent voter ballot arrives to your local clerk before the 8 p.m. deadline on November 3. If you aren’t confident that your ballot will reach your local clerk in time through mail, you can hand deliver it before the election.

Returning your completed Michigan absent voter ballot

Completed absent voter ballots for the 2020 General Election must be received by your local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on November 3.

Packaging your absent voter ballot once it’s completed

Once you’ve filled out your Michigan absent voter ballot for the 2020 General Election, place it inside of the brightly-colored secrecy sleeve that it was initially presented in. This sleeve protects your votes from being read by others.

Next, be sure to sign and date the return envelope that was provided with your absent voter ballot. All Michigan voters are required to sign the back of the envelope or the ballot will be rejected and the vote will not be counted.

For those who are disabled or required assistance to fill out their absent voter ballot, a signature is required from the person who assisted. This signature should be placed on the section of the back of the envelope that says “To be completed only if voter is assisted in voting by another person.”

Once your Michigan absent voter ballot is packaged, it needs to be returned to your local clerk’s office before the 8 p.m. deadline on November 3 or it will not be counted.

To return your absent voter ballot on time, you have two options:

Return your absent voter ballot in person

You can return your completed absent voter ballot by delivering it to your local clerk’s office before the 8 p.m. deadline on November 3. Some offices are even offering ballot “drop boxes” to make returning your ballot easier.

Officials are encouraging voters to hand deliver their completed ballot, as voters can guarantee that their ballot will be received on time and their vote will be counted in the election.

No postage is required to return your Michigan absent voter ballot in person.

Return your absent voter ballot by mail

You can also return your completed absent voter ballot by mailing it to your local clerk’s office -- though this option is not recommended as the deadline to return your ballot approaches.

To ensure your ballot is received by the 8 p.m. deadline on November 3, we recommend mailing out your completed ballot at least two weeks before the deadline -- which would be October 20.

Recent delays and funding shortages with the U.S. Postal Service have raised concerns over whether or not mail-in ballots will be returned to clerks' offices on time for the November election. For this reason, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is urging voters to return their absent voter ballot in person and not by mail.

Postage will be required to return your Michigan absent voter ballot by mail.

Remember: The back of the envelope containing the completed absent voter ballot must be signed by the voter or it will not be counted.

Ballots can be tracked online here after they’ve been dropped off or returned by mail.

Learn more about the vote-by-mail process in Michigan by clicking here.


Be prepared: What to know before voting in General Election in Michigan on Nov. 3, 2020


Note: In-person voting in at Michigan precincts will still be available for the 2020 General Election on Nov. 3, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Face coverings are not required to be worn at polling precincts, but are still encouraged to help prevent the spread of the virus.


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