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Politics & Government

Michigan's top election official says expect delayed results from next week's primary

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson expects results for the August primary and November’s general election will be delayed, because so many voters are casting absentee ballots.

Roughly two million Michiganders have requested absentee ballots. Much of the demand is driven by concerns about standing in long lines on election day amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Benson says state election workers are ready for next week's primary election.

But she concedes all those absentee ballots will take time to count.

“All data would suggest that we’re talking about at least one or two days before we get results in most races in our August primary,” Benson told reporters Wednesday.

Benson is urging state legislators to change the law to allow election workers to start counting absentee ballots before election day.

The Secretary of State is telling voters to return absentee ballots to their local clerk's office in person if possible, because it may be too late for the mail to get there on time.

Clerks must recieve ballot by 8 P.M. on Tuesday to be counted. 

Wednesday afternoon, Sec. Benson appeared before the Senate Elections Committee.

Republican state senators questioned Benson about her decision to send absentee ballot applications to more than seven million people listed on the state’s “qualified voter file”.  

State Sen. Ruth Johnson (R- Holly) had served a Michigan’s Secretary of State. She describes Michigan’s voter rolls as a “flawed list” since it includes some people who have moved out of state and who have died.

“We know it’s not a good list,” says Johnson, “so I don’t believe it should be used as a mailing list.”

But she defended using the list to reach potential voters. 

“There are time tested security checks in place to insure that regardless of who gets an application, only eligible voters get ballots,” says Benson.