LWV of Michigan Logo
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATETAKE ACTION
LWV of Michigan Logo
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATETAKE ACTION

Voting 101

Voting 101 (The Basics)

In a democratic society, we have the privilege of voting to choose the representatives who will work on the problems important to us. Here are some resources to help you navigate the world of voting.


  • Absentee Ballot – A way to vote by mail instead of going to a polling place. In Michigan, any registered Michigan voter can apply for and obtain an absentee ballot.
  • Ballot – a sheet of paper used to cast a secret vote
  • Constitutional Amendment – An addition or change to the state constitution, which requires a vote of the people.
  • Initiative – An issue put on the state ballot by a citizen petition.
  • Millage – A tax on property.  Local units of government, including school districts, may hold millage elections.
  • Political Party – an organization made up of people who think alike on various issues that seeks to attain power within a government. Michigan law does not define party membership; this is the responsibility of each political party.
  • Poll – the place where votes are cast or recorded — usually used in plural (at the polls).
  • Pre-Registration – Allows those who are 16 years old to pre-register to vote
  • Precinct – The place where you vote. It is also called a polling place. Your local clerk’s office can tell you where your precinct is located.
  • Primary – A candidate may appear on the general election ballot by winning a preliminary election called a primary. In Michigan, the state primary is held in August in even-numbered years as are most township primaries. City primaries may be held in odd-numbered years.
  • Referendum – A vote by citizens that approves or rejects an existing state or local law.
  • Registration – The process to get on the list of those able to vote on election day. In Michigan, voters may register in person, by mail, or online up to 15 days prior to an election. Voters may also register in person with their local clerk within 14 days of an election, up to and including Election Day.