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Trump meets with Martin Luther King III on Monday to discuss voting rights
01/16/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, January 16, 2017 - 17:00

The private session at Trump Tower with civil rights advocates, on the same day the nation is honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, represented a mix of symbolism and substance. King III has campaigned for years to establish a form of free government photo identification that could make it easier for Americans who lack a driver’s license or other official ID to cast ballots. He and the other attendees, including the Rev. James A. Forbes, have urged Trump to endorse the idea of making such identification free. ...

According to one of the meeting’s participants, who asked for anonymity to discuss a private conversation, Trump expressed a serious interest in making photos available on Social Security cards and said he would study the issue in further detail. ...

Proponents of the voter card emphasize that it will be voluntary, rather than universal, and said it represents a rational response to the fact that voter ID laws are poised to proliferate given Republicans’ recent gains on the state and federal level.

“We’re going to end up with more and more voter ID laws,” said American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Norman Ornstein. “And that’s a reality, and the question pragmatically is, what is the best way to deal with it?”

Ornstein noted that looking at minority turnout in the 2016 presidential election results, “It was down more in states with strict laws than in states without it."

Martin Luther King III: Trump agrees the voting system is broken. Here’s how he can fix it.
01/14/17 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, January 14, 2017 - 01:00

[W]e can agree that every citizen should have the unfettered opportunity to vote. Indeed, my concern is not how people vote, but simply that they vote. ...

Fortunately, President-elect Trump agrees. Throughout the campaign, he consistently reminded the electorate that the system is broken.

Even more fortunately, it is indisputable that nonpartisan, common-sense solutions are available. In 2014, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library, former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton endorsed my friend Andrew Young’s proposal that all citizens be able to obtain a photo ID card that would meet the voting requirements in every state. Following the event, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly voiced his support for the plan, saying they were “doing the country a service” and declaring, “Let’s get the pictures on the Social Security card, stop the nonsense and be a responsible country.” As Young has said, “The challenge with voter ID laws isn’t the requirement to show ID, it’s that so many people lack ID. That is the problem that needs to be fixed — and not just for voting. In today’s world, you can’t open a bank account without a photo ID — and the only people happy about that are check cashers.” ...

[A]t the end of the day, the right to vote is not a Republican right or a Democratic right — it is an American right. If Trump enables more Americans to exercise that right in future elections, he will be able to say that in no small measure he really did make America great again.

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Michigan Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

For more information, visit the Michigan Secretary of State’s website.

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Counties in the Eastern time zone will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee counties may operate on either central time or eastern time.

Michigan does not have early voting.

How to Find Your Polling Place:  Visit the Michigan Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines:  You must register 30 days prior to the General Election.  The deadline for this year’s General Election is Tuesday, October 11, 2016.

How to Check Your Registration: Use Michigan’s Voter Center website or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register to vote in Michigan, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Be a resident of Michigan;
  • Be at least 18 years old by Election Day;
  • Be a resident of the city or township where you are applying to register to vote; and
  • Not be serving a sentence in jail or prison.

How to Register:  Michigan residents may register in person, by mail or by fax.

By Mail

In order to register to vote by mail, you must obtain a mail-in registration form by:

In Person

You may register to vote in person by:

Identification Required for Registration:

Voters who are registering to vote for the first time and registering by mail must submit with the application a photocopy of:

  • A current and valid government-issued photo identification; or
  • A paycheck stub, utility bill, bank statement, or government document which lists the voter’s name and address

Voters do not have to comply with this identification requirement if:

  • Registering to vote in person;
  • The voter is disabled; or

The voter is eligible to vote by an overseas absentee ballot.

If You Want to Vote Early

Unlike some other states, Michigan does not have early voting. Qualified voters may, however, cast absentee ballots prior to Election Day.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

A voter may cast an absentee ballot if he or she is:

  • age 60 years old or older;
  • unable to vote without assistance at the polls;
  • expecting to be out of town on election day;
  • in jail awaiting arraignment or trial;
  • unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons; or
  • appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence

A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. The restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are disabled or voters who are 60 years of age or older.

Rules and Deadlines:

  • Requests to have an absentee ballot mailed to a voter must be received by your local city or township clerk’s office no later than 2 p.m. on November 5, 2016.
  • If an emergency, such as a sudden illness or family death prevents you from reaching the polls on election day, you may request an emergency absent voter ballot. Requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after the deadline for regular absent voter ballots has passed but before 4 p.m. on November 8, 2016, the date of the General Election.
  • Absentee ballots must be received by the clerk’s office by 8:00 p.m. on November 8, 2016, the date of the General Election. 

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

In order to vote in Michigan, every registered voter voting in person must show a valid form of photo ID or sign an affidavit attesting that he or she is not in possession of a photo ID (which you may sign even if you have a photo ID, but did not bring it with you to the polls). Your address does not need to be included on the photo ID.

Valid forms of photo ID include:

  • Driver’s license or personal ID card issued by Michigan;
  • Driver’s license or personal ID card issued by another state;
  • Federal or state government-issued photo ID;
  • U.S. passport;
  • Military ID with photo;
  • Student ID with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education; and
  • Tribal ID with photo.

If you did not provide the identification required to register to vote at the time of registration, you must also bring that identification when you go to cast your ballot. If you do not have a valid form of photo ID, you may still cast a ballot by signing an affidavit confirming your identity.  The ballot will be counted with all other ballots on election day (even though it may be prepared as a “challenged” ballot if there is good reason to suspect the voter is not qualified and registered in the voting precinct).

VoteRiders has created Michigan voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

If you moved within a city or township, or if you moved to a different city or township after October 11, 2016, but haven’t updated your address, you can vote at your old polling location. The election official will process your change of address there.

Moving Between Counties

You may vote in your old precinct one last time and must complete an affidavit attesting that you have moved.  At the precinct, an election official will ask you to complete a cancellation authorization form before you are issued a ballot.  If you moved to a different city more than 60 days before election day and didn’t re-register, you cannot vote in the General Election.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Special services are provided to assist military and overseas civilian voters participate in elections.  If voter is a military or overseas civilian voter who is eligible to vote in Michigan, please visit the Michigan Secretary of State’s website (http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633-238835--,00.html) and follow the instructions for the appropriate scenario.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

Military and other overseas citizens (UOCAVA voters) can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) Michigan-specific website.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You must apply for a regular ballot early enough for your local election officials to receive the request at least 5 days before the election.  If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB.  Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Michigan no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Michigan-specific FWAB page.

Any person convicted of a crime in a court of Michigan, another state or in a federal court who has been lawfully released from prison has the right to vote. A person who was a qualified and registered voter prior to conviction should not have to re-register upon release from prison (but should make sure their voter address is updated).


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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2016 Election Information for your state