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Unofficial election results delayed after some counties changed how results are transmitted

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Delays in unofficial reporting of results in Michigan's primary were caused by a change in how those results are transmitted from the local level to the county level.

As of Wednesday morning, results were still coming in from large communities.

At least 70 Michigan counties have stopped using modems to transmit unofficial election results electronically, according to Michigan Department of State Spokesperson Tracy Wimmer.

Wayne County, Michigan’s largest, is among those that stopped using modems to transmit results.

The shift comes amid a push to increase election security by critics who doubt the results of the November 2020 presidential election — despite Republican-led audits that upheld the results — and disproven claims of fraud involving voting machines connected to the internet through modems.

“This is being done in accordance with guidance issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in order to, one, prevent any remote possibility — which is very small — of interference, but also to counter the misinformation that is circulated concerning the use of modems,” Wimmer said.

Without modems to transmit results from the local to the county level, unofficial results from polling places were driven to the county clerk’s offices by election workers, said Wimmer.

She said individual polling locations still had the unofficial results publicly available.

“The delay just came in aggregating that information at the county level, because of the time it took to physically bring those results from the individual jurisdictions to the county,” Wimmer said.

She said a larger issue the delay is that Michigan law does not allow the pre-processing of absentee ballots– which she says makes up a large proportion of votes cast in Michigan. She says the department expects that trend to continue into the November election. That’s why the Secretary of State’s office is advocating to allow seven days for pre-processing of absentee ballots.

Modems will not be used in the general election this November either.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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