Michigan presidential primary 2024: Election Day date, how to vote, candidates

A person stands behind a voting booth as they cast their vote inside the Central United Methodist Church polling place in Detroit on Nov. 8, 2022.
A person stands behind a voting booth as they cast their vote inside the Central United Methodist Church polling place in Detroit on Nov. 8, 2022.

Mark your calendars — Tuesday, Feb. 27 is Election Day in Michigan, as voters will get the chance to make their voices heard in Michigan's presidential primary.

This year, Michigan voters will be able to cast their ballots in the state's presidential primary in late February. Last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to move the primary from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February, as supporters of the plan say it gives Michigan voters a bigger say in the presidential nominating process.

Here's what voters in Michigan need to know about voting in the 2024 presidential primary election:

First of all, you must be registered to vote to participate in Michigan's presidential primary

Voter registration in Michigan is straightforward! If you're unsure if you're already registered to vote, you can check your registration status by visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center at michigan.gov/vote. The Michigan Voter Information Center also contains information on finding your local clerk's office, your polling location, how to request an absentee ballot and more.

Michigan voters can register to vote online or in person up through Election Day. Here's how.

There are multiple ways to cast a ballot in Michigan

In addition to heading to the polls on Election Day, Michigan voters have other options to cast their ballots. Voters can request and return an absentee ballot, or take advantage of early, in-person voting.

Absentee ballots can be submitted in person at a local clerk's office, at a secure dropbox before Election Day or be returned through the mail.

To obtain an absentee ballot, registered voters can apply online at michigan.gov/vote up to 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. Voters can also pick up an absentee ballot at their local clerk's office, or request that an application be mailed to them.

After submitting an absentee ballot, voters can also check the status of their ballot online at michigan.gov/vote. If it's closer to Election Day, it's recommended to return an absentee ballot at your local clerk's office or at a dropbox.

After voters approved a ballot proposal in 2022, early voting will be available in Michigan elections beginning with the February 2024 presidential primary. The early voting period has to extend for at least nine days before Election Day, but communities can choose to offer early voting for up 29 days.

Key dates, deadlines for Michigan presidential primary

While the primary day itself is Tuesday, Feb. 27, Michigan also has early voting and absentee voting. Here are some key dates to know for the presidential primary:

  • Sunday, Jan. 28: Communities may begin allowing early voting. Michigan election law requires communities to hold at least nine days of early in-person voting, but communities can choose to hold up to 29 days of early voting. To find out your community's early voting schedule, contact your local clerk's office, which can be found online at the Michigan Voter Information Center at michigan.gov/vote.

  • Monday, Feb. 12: Deadline to register to vote online or by mail and be eligible to vote in the Tuesday, Feb. 27, presidential primary.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 13: On this day and afterward, people registering to vote in the presidential primary must do so in person at a local clerk's office with proof of residency.

  • Saturday, Feb. 17: Communities must begin allowing early voting.

  • Friday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m.: Deadline to request an absentee ballot online or through the mail.

  • Sunday, Feb. 25: Last day of early voting.

  • Monday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m.: Deadline to request an absentee ballot in person at a local clerk's office.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Election Day! Polls are open. Voters can also obtain absentee ballots at their local clerk's office until polls close, but only if they are registering to vote or updating their voter registration address.

For more on key election dates in Michigan this year, check out this calendar.

Michigan has a closed presidential primary — what that means

Michigan has a closed presidential primary — this means that voters have to select which party's primary ballot they'll be filling out, according to state election law. Unlike the traditional August primary, when voters get a ballot and choose to fill out only a single party's side, voters will be given a ballot with only the party they select for the February presidential primary.

State election law, however, doesn't require voters in Michigan to register with a political party to vote in the primary. This means, if you wanted to, you could vote in the Republican presidential primary election in February but then choose to vote in the Democratic primary in August, when the time comes, or vice versa.

Who will be on the presidential ballot in Michigan

This year, the Republican primary is the more contested ticket, as, for the most part, Democratic figures in Michigan and throughout the U.S. are backing President Joe Biden for a second term. That doesn't mean Biden doesn't have challengers, though, as you'll see below.

Here's the list of candidates who will be on the Republican primary ballot, according to the Secretary of State's Office (some candidates who will be on the ballot have already dropped out of the contest):

  • Ryan L. Binkley

  • Chris Christie

  • Ron DeSantis

  • Nikki Haley

  • Asa Hutchinson

  • Vivek Ramaswamy

  • Donald J. Trump

And here is the Democratic field as it will appear on the ballot, according to the Secretary of State's Office:

  • Joseph R. Biden Jr.

  • Dean Phillips

  • Marianne Williamson

Voters can also choose to vote "uncommitted" on the presidential primary ballot.

The GOP presidential primary process is a bit different this year, here's why

For voters participating in the Republican presidential primary, their side of the process will look pretty similar to what everyone is used to: fill out a ballot, turn it in, and watch results trickle in after polls close.

But there's a problem — remember Michigan's new, earlier primary date? Moving the primary forward actually violates Republican National Committee (RNC) rules, which state the only presidential contests before the beginning of March are supposed to be those in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

So to keep in compliance with RNC rules (and hold onto all of the state's 55 nominating delegates which will be awarded at the Republican National Convention this summer), Republicans in Michigan are also going to hold a caucus-style state nominating convention on Saturday, March 2.

How the state awards its nominating delegates (a candidate needs 1,236 of the GOP's 2,470 delegates to clinch the nomination) will be determined by both the primary and the nominating convention. Sixteen delegates are going to be awarded from the presidential primary, while the remaining 39 will be awarded through the nominating convention.

For a full understanding of the Republican nominating process in Michigan, read this explainer from our Washington Correspondent, Todd Spangler, who spoke with RNC National Committee Michigan member, Dr. Rob Steele.

Contact Arpan Lobo: alobo@freepress.com. Follow him on X (Twitter) @arpanlobo.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan presidential primary 2024: Election Day is Feb. 27