Michigan voters should not expect general election results to be reported immediately after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Thursday that general election results for races across the state should be reported by the afternoon or evening of Wednesday, Nov. 9 -- the day after Election Day. Benson says results will take longer to calculate and report due to a high volume of absentee ballots that will be processed after polls close on Election Day.
“This year, (voters) should expect -- as it was in 2020 -- that it might take until about 24 hours after the polls close before all votes are counted and the unofficial results are reported,” Benson said during a news conference Thursday. “Some jurisdictions may be done more quickly, but -- barring any disruption -- we expect it will take until Wednesday late in the afternoon or evening for all jurisdictions to have finished counting and reporting their results.”
Earlier this week, Benson’s office said that more than 1.1 million absentee ballots had been returned for the general election. At that time, nearly 2 million absentee ballots had been requested by Michigan voters. According to our latest WDIV/Detroit News poll, about 33% of Michigan voters are voting absentee in this midterm election.
Absentee ballots are only allowed to be opened and tabulated when polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Some jurisdictions can prep absentee ballots in advance, but only to a certain extent. Absentee ballots cannot be counted before polls close.
For this reason, opening, validating and tabulating absentee ballots can slow down the process of finalizing and reporting results.
“... the state Legislature only allowed some jurisdictions to do limited pre-processing of absentee ballots prior to Election Day,” Benson said. “But throughout Election Day, and after polls close at 8 p.m., rest assured that election administrators from both sides of the aisle will be working to validate and tabulate every valid vote. In doing so, they will rightly prioritize security, transparency and accuracy over speed.”
Know before you vote: Michigan Voter Guide 2022: Get to know key races, ballot proposals before voting
Data shows that the overwhelming majority of absentee ballots are requested by Democratic voters, so their results will likely largely favor Democratic candidates.
This means that early election results may significantly swing in favor of Republicans at first as in-person votes are counted, since a majority of Republican voters say they plan to vote in person. A significant surge in Democratic votes are expected to follow, as absentee ballots are opened and counted, however.
It’s during this time -- the hours after polls close when results are not finalized and absentee ballots are still being counted -- that misinformation may spread in an effort to sow doubt in the election’s integrity and security, officials said. Benson warned voters on Thursday that “bad actors” may “seize on this time” to “spread misinformation and lies about the security of the tabulation process, and preemptively attempt to declare results.”
“We’re asking you to remember that only a full tabulation of every valid vote will determine the winner in any election contest,” Benson said. “We, our office, will transparently share the facts and data of the election, just as we always have ... and we will fact check misinformation on our website.”
You can watch Benson’s entire Nov. 3 pre-election news conference in the video player below.
Here at Local 4, we’ll be sharing election results online in real-time as they are reported after polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Click here for a full list of races in Michigan’s midterm election (you can also find individual races or races by community).