SOS urges Michigan lawmakers to allow absentee ballot counting before election day

Jocelyn Benson worried about long counting delays for tight races

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s Secretary of State is urging lawmakers to allow absentee ballots to be counted before election day.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this week’s Michigan Primary Election had a record-breaking voter turnout. With 2.5 million people voting absentee or in person Tuesday, the previous record of 2.2 million in 2018 was shattered.

While Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is pleased with the turnout, she’s concerned looking ahead to November. She said as it stands right now, clerks can’t open and begin to count absentee ballots until election day.

More than 5 million residents are expected to vote in November, including millions of absentee ballots, so Benson is worried there will be major delays for some tight races.

Benson is urging lawmakers in Lansing to act. Almost 20 other states allow clerks to count absentee ballots as they roll in, but Michigan isn’t one of them. She said making that switch would take the pressure off of clerks and help them get faster and more accurate results to residents.

More than 10,000 absentee ballots had to be rejected during Tuesday’s primary because of postmarking errors. Benson said this is something her department is working on with the postal service to prevent it from happening again in November.

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