How to vote, for first-time voters

How to vote, for first-time voters

Emmy Johnson, Writer

An upcoming election is leaving first-time voters confused and asking, “How do I vote?” The answer may seem simple, but with hoops to jump through in order to attain a ballot or even registering to vote for this election, requires time and patience.

The first step to voting is to register. Registering to vote is simply filling out an application and following the due dates provided. Registration can either be done online or by mail; both follow the same process. To register to vote, go to

If already registered look at your status, a timeline of past votes counted, by following, and update or register again if needed.

Voting by mail requires requesting a ballot before filling it out. The National Postal Service recommends mailing in ballots as soon as possible to be certain the vote will count. Voters can fill out an application for a ballot at

After receiving the ballot, it must be filled out. In Michigan, a ballot needs a signature that matches personal registration with no stray marks. Ballots won’t be counted if the signature is wrong, if a deadline was missed or if it hasn’t been signed. To make sure the ballot will be counted, read the instructions carefully and check with local officials to help fill it out.

After the ballot is filled out, it must be dropped off in a drop box in a town hall or postage. Return postage for ballots isn’t guaranteed in Michigan but may be offered in your county.

All ballots are only going to be counted if turned in by Election Day, anything later will be denied. Check with local officials if there is a set time to turn in ballots. The Michigan Department of State recommends mailing ballots at least two weeks before Election Day or turning it in person or via dropbox on Election Day.

Voting can also be done at voting booths. Michigan requires voters to have a state I.D. Other options of identification are a current driver’s license (which cannot be expired), a personal I.D from another state, any I.D given to you by a federal or state government, a U.S passport, Military and Tribal I.D card, or a student I.D issued to you by a high school or university.

Precinct recommends bringing two forms of identification to be prepared for further questioning.

If a person is unable to have an I.D, they are able to vote like any other voter by signing an affidavit; a contract puts voters into an oath as an anonymous voter. However, this risks the vote not counting.

Communities will have a precinct, an area specified where to vote. Precincts are organized by address and are often close to where voters live, check your precinct at under the tab “Find Your Voting Location.”

Precincts are where voting takes place. Voters wait in line before receiving a ballot from a poll worker, who then writes down the ballot number. Voters are then sent to a voting booth where they can mark the ballot before turning it in. This booth is completely private, spaced out from other voters, and is where you will place a vote. 

Before requesting a ballot or going to a poll, ask yourself “can I vote in this election?” In Michigan, voters must be over 18, a legal citizen of the U.S, meet state requirements (you can still be homeless and meet them), have no felonies (rules may vary), and aren’t mentally incapacitated (rules vary, if you have a voting assistant).

Check Michigan’s voting requirements at and be sure to vote.