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Benson: Election system pushed to its limit in primary

You can return your ballot to a drop off box like this one in Ann Arbor.
April Baer
Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says it may take a few days to know all the results of Tuesday's election – but it appears polling places were safe and well managed.

Benson said counting absentee votes will take longer than usual, but the system was able to handle the large number of ballots that were mailed in or dropped off.

“And what that shows us is what to expect when you’ve got 1.6 to two million ballots sent through the mail. This is what the system can provide. In November, we will have potentially as many as three million sent through the mail.”

Benson says that does not include managing people who decide to turn up at polling places to cast their ballots in person. She says there were a few places in Detroit where voters were confused because polling places were moved from their usual locations.

The state was ready to help with additional personnel in a few spots where there were not enough election workers. But she says the state will have to recruit more volunteers for November.

Benson says the system will be further tested by the larger general election turnout in a presidential election year.

“We know our work ahead is cut out for us as we prepare for November and continue to adjust and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and other political realities. And we are ready to ensure that even in this historic election cycle, with new rights and challenges in place, and a pandemic changing everything day by day, we are ready to ensure that every vote is counted and every voice is heard this November."

She has asked the Legislature to adopt measures to make it more efficient to process mailed-in ballots.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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