Vote-by-mail system shows increase in voter participation for Michigan’s May election

Voter participation percentages have increased ‘significantly’ one week before election day

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Secretary of State of Michigan Jocelyn Benson announced Tuesday an increase in voter participation for the state after adopting the vote-by-mail system for the May election.

Michigan’s May 5 election is taking place by mail due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Mailed absentee ballots must be received by the local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on election day in order to be counted.

May elections are being held in jurisdictions with expiring millages or other funding concerns that could not wait until August, officials said.

Benson’s office reports that of the estimated 740,000 applications mailed to Michigan voters, 213,011 were submitted and 86,355 people have already cast ballots. These numbers put voter participation at 12% a week before election day. Officials say voter participation for May elections has averaged about 13% in Michigan in recent years -- so the use of the vote-by-mail system is showing a “significant increase in participation”.

“The data confirms what we already knew; when people are given the option to vote from the comfort of their home, they overwhelmingly choose to do so,” Benson said. “This level of turnout proves how committed Michigan voters are to participating in our democracy, and how even during a health crisis Michigan’s elections are successful.”

Individuals unable to mail their ballots on time can drop them off at their local clerk’s office on election day. Same-day registration will also be available at local clerk offices.

Related: Metro Detroit election clerks discuss plans for upcoming elections

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