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Can You Vote More Than Once In An Election In Michigan?

 

On September 2, 2020, President Trump urged voters in North Carolina to vote twice, once by mail and once in person, in the 2020 presidential election to apparently test whether election officials will able to detect fraud in the voting process.  “Let them send it in and let them go vote”, Mr. Trump said, “And if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote [in person].”

The president has decried repeatedly in the last several months that the election process will be tainted by widespread fraud stemming from mass mail-in voting.  He is encouraging his supporters to see if safeguards truly are in place for state officials to catch if voters are cheating and truly are casting multiple ballots.  Despite the apparent endorsement from our head of state, voters should not even consider casting multiple ballots in the same election no matter what the purpose.  Voting more than once is against state and federal law and will result in severe criminal penalties.

In Michigan, state law clearly prohibits voting more than once:

  • A person who votes or attempts to vote more than once at the same election either in the same or in another voting precinct is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $2,000.00, or up to 4 years in state prison, or both. MCL 168.932a(e).
  • A person who votes at an election both in person and by means of an absent voter ballot or a person who attempts to vote both in person and by means of an absent voter ballot is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 or up to 5 years in state prison, or both. MCL 168.769(4).

In addition, state law compels the election inspectors to immediately report violations of any election law to the prosecuting attorney, and the prosecutor is directed to file charges forthwith:

  • “It shall be the duty of every inspector of election, knowing, or having reason to believe, that an offense punishable under the provisions of this act has been committed, to give information thereof to the prosecuting attorney without delay, and such prosecuting attorney shall adopt effective measures for the prosecution of all persons believed to be guilty of such offense.” MCL 168.939.
  • “It is hereby made the duty of every prosecuting attorney, whenever he shall receive credible information that any such offense has been committed, to cause the same to be prosecuted.” MCL 168.940.

There is an exception to this rule under Michigan law.  If a voter casting an absentee vote sends the ballot to the clerk early but wishes to change his or her vote and cast a new absentee ballot before the applicable deadlines, then he or she may do so under the following procedures:

  • Not later than 2 p.m. on the Saturday immediately before an election, a voter may submit a signed, written statement to his or her city or township clerk requesting that the clerk spoil the elector’s absent voter ballot AND provide or mail a new absent voter ballot to the voter. MCL 168.765b(1).
  • A voter who has returned an absent voter ballot may, before 4 p.m. on the day before an election except Sunday or a legal holiday, appear in person at his or her city or township clerk’s office to spoil his or her absent voter ballot by submitting a signed, written statement to the city or township clerk indicating that the voter wishes to have his or her absent voter ballot spoiled AND vote a new absent voter ballot in the clerk’s office. MCL 168.765b(3).
  • Not later than 2 p.m. on the Saturday immediately before an election, a voter who has lost his or her absent voter ballot or not yet received his or her absent voter ballot in the mail may submit a signed, written statement to his or her city or township clerk requesting that the clerk spoil the voter’s absent voter ballot AND provide or mail a new absent voter ballot to the voter. MCL 168.765b(5).
  • A voter who has lost his or her absent voter ballot or not yet received his or her absent voter ballot in the mail may, before 4 p.m. on the day before an election except Sunday or a legal holiday, appear in person at his or her city or township clerk’s office and requesting that the clerk spoil his or her absent voter ballot by submitting a signed, written statement to the city or township clerk indicating that the elector wishes to have his or her absent voter ballot spoiled AND vote a new absent voter ballot in the clerk’s office. MCL 168.765b(7).

There are also severe penalties for voting more than once under federal law:

  • A person who votes more than once in a federal election is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000.00 or up to 5 years in prison, or both. 52 U.S.C. §10307(e)(1).
  • This prohibition “applies with respect to any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.” 52 U.S.C. §10307(e)(2).
  • This prohibition “does not include the casting of an additional ballot if all prior ballots of that voter were invalidated, nor does it include the voting in two jurisdictions…, to the extent two ballots are not cast for an election to the same candidacy or office.” 52 U.S.C. §10307(e)(3).

Voting more than once in the same election as prohibited by law is extremely foolish and can result in incarceration.  Do not take this illegal action no matter how academic your intentions are.  If you or a loved one is accused of any election crime and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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