Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the results of Tuesday’s primary will be reported later than usual because of an increase in absentee voting.
Voters amended the state constitution in 2018 to allow anyone to cast an absentee ballot without needing a reason, but election clerks are not allowed to process absentee ballots prior to election day.
Benson said her office has seen an 80 percent increase in applications for absentee ballots compared to 2016 and revealed that more than 500,000 absentee ballots have already been cast.
“It is important that all Michiganders, and in fact all Americans, know that results that come later in the evening do not suggest that errors or fraudulent activity have occurred,” she said during a Thursday press conference. “On the contrary, the later-than-usual results are evidence that clerks are working diligently to carry out the additional work on their plates in a way that is ethical and accurate. In other words, they are doing their jobs as all Americans would want them to.”
Benson called on the State Legislature to change the law to allow clerks to process absentee ballots prior to election day, which is done in at least 18 other states. She said the changes to the state’s voting laws “increase the workload for clerks on what is already a very busy day and will likely mean Tuesday’s results will be available later than they have been historically.”
“We think it’s pretty clear, and the clerks too, that we need more time to process these ballots in advance of election day. It’s amazing that it’s been such a hard lift to communicate that effectively, but I’m hopeful that Tuesday will show even more why that additional time is necessary,” Benson added.
She also stressed that Michigan’s elections system is “more secure than ever.”
“Voters should have full faith that every vote will be counted and results will be reported accurately,” she said. “My administration has done significant work to bolster our election security, and we will continue to do so through the November election and beyond.”
Michigan is one of six states holding a primary on March 10 and offers the biggest reward with 125 pledged delegates up for grabs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the race last week and polls predict that he will beat Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday.
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