Understanding the Changes to Michigan’s Absentee Voting System

In 2022, Michigan voters approved a proposal that significantly expanded the rights of our qualified registered voters. Collaborating with other county clerks, legislators worked diligently to pass bills to implement this proposal into state law. These new regulations are now in effect, and these changes will impact elections in Michigan from 2024 onward.

Significant Changes in Absentee Voting

No-Reason Absentee Voting Since 2018

Since 2018, Michigan voters have had the convenience of voting by absentee ballot without providing a reason. This flexibility has led many voters to sign up for the permanent absentee ballot application list, which mandates local clerks to send absentee applications before every election.

Introduction of the Permanent Mail Ballot List

With the passage of Proposal 2 of 2022, a new list—the permanent mail ballot list—was created. Unlike the previous system, this list requires that absentee voter ballots be sent automatically to voters without needing an application. This new process saves valuable time and resources for both voters and clerks.

Standout Quote: “Proposal 2 of 2022 required the creation of a new list, the permanent mail ballot list, which requires instead for absent voter ballots to be sent automatically rather than applications. This cuts down on the administration time it takes to mail the application to the voter and back to the clerk.”

Maintaining Election Integrity

It is crucial to note that these changes do not compromise the security of our elections. Voters must actively opt-in to join the permanent mail ballot list, and as always, signatures are matched at each step to ensure authenticity.

Options for Returning Absentee Ballots

Absent voter ballots provide several return options:

  1. Mailing Back to Local Clerk: The traditional route is via postal mail.
  2. Local Clerk’s Dropbox: Secure drop-off anytime.
  3. Local Clerk’s Office: Direct in-office return.
  4. Early Voting Sites or Polling Locations on Election Day: Deposit directly in the tabulator, just like in-person ballots.

Please remember, if you receive election mail for someone who no longer resides at your address, return it to the sender. This practice helps local clerks maintain an accurate voter file.

Military and Overseas Voters

Extended Time for Ballot Returns

Under the new state constitutional changes, military and overseas voters receive an extended deadline for returning absentee ballots. As long as these ballots are postmarked by Election Day, they can be accepted up to six days after the election.

Encouragement for Prompt Returns

While this additional time is beneficial, voters must mail their ballots as early as possible to avoid delays.

Enhancing Voting Accessibility and Security

Michigan’s election landscape continuously evolves to provide more secure voting options. As your local and county clerks, we are committed to ensuring these improvements make voting more accessible, safer, and secure than ever.

Participation in the Democratic Process

No matter how you exercise your right to vote, you should make sure you take part in our democratic process.

Get in Touch

Feel free to ask the clerk questions about elections, voter registration, absentee voting, or ballot submissions. Contact me at:

  • Phone: 517-676-7201
  • Email: clerk@ingham.org

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/vote.

Thank you for your attention and active participation. Now, get out and vote!


The recent changes to Michigan’s absentee voting system are designed to make voting more accessible while ensuring the integrity of our elections. By understanding these updates, you can take full advantage of the conveniences they offer. Whether you’re a frequent absentee voter or new to the process, these improvements aim to provide a seamless voting experience. Stay informed, stay engaged, and make your voice heard in the upcoming elections.