Why 10,000 absentee ballots were rejected in Michigan primary

Benson calls for legislative changes for November

FILE - In this May 5, 2020, file photo, Jordan Smellie moves absentee ballots to be counted at City Hall in Garden City, Mich. The Michigan appeals court has denied a request to require the counting of absentee ballots received after the time polls close on Election Day. The ruling says the deadline remains intact despite voters' approval of a constitutional amendment that expanded mail-in voting. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Michigan’s Secretary of State says more than 10,000 absentee ballots were rejected for Michigan’s primary election on Aug. 4.

While the large majority of ballots were approved and counted, the state says approximately 10,600 ballots were rejected. More than 8,600 (over 80 percent) were due to signature verification issues or late arrival.

Other reasons include wrong address, wrong signature (signature didn’t match), empty envelope or unconfirmed ID.

“The data demonstrates that thousands of people who cast otherwise valid votes were not able to participate in last week’s election solely because the Legislature failed to act ahead of the primary,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “With turnout and absentee ballot numbers expected to double or even triple in November, we could be looking at tens of thousands of Michigan citizens disenfranchised if the legislature again fails to act.”

Benson has been pushing for legislative changes to absentee voting in the state, calling for the passing bills to allow ballots to be counted earlier, and to be valid if postmarked by Election Day. Currently in Michigan, absent voter ballots are not allowed to be opened until the morning of election day, though they can be cast up to 35 days prior to election day.

According to Benson, just over 2.5 million Michigan voters participated in the Aug. 4 primary election, surpassing the state’s previous record of 2.2 million in the Aug. 2018 Primary Election.

Officials say 1.6 million of the 2.5 million votes were cast using absent voter ballots -- more than any other election in Michigan history. The previous record for absentee ballots cast in a Michigan election was 1.3 million in the 2016 Presidential Election.

More: Michigan sees record voter turnout, absentee voting in Aug. 2020 Primary Election

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.