When is Michigan primary 2024? What to know, how to vote, candidates, more

The 2024 Michigan presidential primary election is this week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, voters will get the chance to make their voices heard, one week before Super Tuesday. In the primary election, voters will pick one party's ballot to choose their nominee, whether on the Republican side or Democratic side.

The big difference this year is 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:

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.

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.

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 (the early voting period, however, closed Sunday for this election).

It's likely too late to mail in your absentee ballot for the primary election, but absentee ballots can still be submitted in person at a local clerk's office or at a secure dropbox up until polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day. After submitting an absentee ballot, voters can check the status of their ballot online at michigan.gov/vote.

For the first time in a statewide election, communities held nine days of early, in-person voting, which ran from Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 25. For all state and federal elections moving forward, communities will be required to hold at least nine days of early voting, but can choose to hold up to 29 days of early voting thanks to a ballot proposal approved by Michigan voters in 2022.

Key dates, deadlines for Michigan presidential primary

While the primary day itself is Tuesday, Feb. 27, here are some key dates to know for the presidential primary:

  • 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 are 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. Here's why that could be significant Tuesday.

Opinion: Biden has lost Arab American voters. So what's the point of 'uncommitted'?

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: When is Michigan primary 2024? What to know, how to vote