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Absentee voting begins in Michigan

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

Absentee voting began Thursday in Michigan.

Absentee ballots were put in the mail to people who requested them. Registered voters can also stop by clerks’ offices to fill out their ballots.

In a web conference with progressive activists, Governor Gretchen Whitmer noted the election in Michigan was very close in 2016.

“The whole world knows that there are a handful of states that there's going to be an incredible amount of pressure on,” Whitmer said.

The Legislature also approved a bill to let election workers pre-process absentee ballots so they can be tallied more quickly. 

The ballots themselves cannot be counted until Election Day. But the bill would let election workers open protective sleeves so absentee ballots can be processed more quickly on Election Day.

State Representative Julie Calley (R-Portland) said these changes should not be necessary.

“We’d like to say that we have enough staff, and enough machinery, and enough space in this socially distanced era to not need this, but this is just not the case," said Calley. "We don’t have enough staff. We don’t have enough equipment in many locations, and they need additional time.”

The bill is now on its way to Whitmer.

Without speaking specifically about the bill, Whitmer said she does not expect all the votes will be tallied on election night.

Whitmer said the election will probably be decided in a small number of swing states – including Michigan.

“We want to get a result that counts every vote, and that we can all have confidence in, and that is as quick as possible. And by ‘quick’ I mean days,” Whitmer said.

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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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