Student Voter Guide for Michigan’s 2018 Primary Election

Why primaries matter

Primary elections determine which candidates will appear on the November ballot for each of the two major political parties, and sometimes for third parties. So they’re your prime chance to choose the eventual candidates. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can also influence the stands of the candidates who do.

Primaries replaced a system where candidates were chosen by party leaders or participants in party caucuses. They more accurately reflect our democracy by letting the general public select the candidates.

The Importance of Mid-Terms

In November 2018, voters will participate in a mid-term election, or one held between presidential-election years. Mid-term elections can be an important opportunity to express support or dissatisfaction with a president’s performance and policies. 2018 primaries will include candidate nominations for 34 U.S. Senate seats, all 435 U.S. Representative seats, plus governors, other statewide officials, and state legislative seats.

Who can vote in a primary election?


You are eligible to vote in Michigan if you are a U.S. citizen, a resident of Michigan (includes out-of-state college students) and are at least 18 years old by election day. Lawful permanent residents, commonly referred to as “green card holders” are not eligible to vote.

ID Requirements for registering – provide one of the following:

  • Michigan ID number
  • Michigan driver’s license number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • If you are registering for the first time by mail and cannot be identified by the ID information you provide, you will need to provide proof of residence. See election website for acceptable documents for this purpose.

ID requirements for voting

Michigan requires a Michigan driver’s license or Michigan ID to vote.  If you do not have either of these, see election website for acceptable alternatives, one of which is a student ID.

How to register

In Michigan you can register by mail or in person at your elections office.  See Key Resources for online access to registration forms.  You can also update an existing registration at ExpressSOS.

Absentee ballots

Any registered voter can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you from your local election office or you can complete an online ballot request and follow the instructions for returning it to your local clerk.

Address to use for registering & voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state.   However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register, since registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Or affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Additional information

For more detailed student voting guides, visit Campus Vote Project




  • July 9: Registration
  • Aug 4: Absentee ballot request received by 2:00 p.m.
  • Aug 7: Absentee ballot returned
  • Aug 7: Primary Election



  • Open primary: all registered voters can choose which ballot to complete. This does not register the voter with that party.