Whitmer, Benson urge early voting in presidential election


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday reminded people to apply for absentee ballots for the upcoming presidential election and to get those ballots back to clerks early if possible.

“Michiganders should start taking action now. Today is the day to have a plan for voting,” Whitmer said during an afternoon press conference.

Benson said total votes in the Nov. 3 general election will likely exceed 5 million — the only other time that has happened in Michigan was in 2008, when President Barack Obama was first elected. In that election, 5,039,080 votes were cast.

This time around, more than 3 million of the votes could be absentee. If that happens, it would blow the state’s current record for absentee voting — more than 1.6 million in the August primary — out of the water.

Some 2.3 million Michigan residents have already requested an absentee ballots.

Benson laid out all the voting options in Michigan:

Absentee ballots will start going out in the mail Sept. 24. They can be returned via the mail, in your community’s drop box (a list of drop box locations will be available online closer to Election Day) or at your local clerk’s office. You can also track your ballot online to make sure it has arrived at your clerk’s office.

Also starting Sept. 24, you can also register to vote and vote absentee inside a clerk’s office ahead of the election. That option is available through 4 p.m. Nov. 2.

And, of course, you can vote in person at your precinct on Election Day. Coronavirus mitigation protocols will be in place. Benson reminded voters to check online to confirm the location of their polling place.

If you want to work the polls, you can sign up online at Michigan.gov/DemocracyMVP.

Benson also addressed attacks on the security of mail-in voting, though she did not refer by name to President Donald Trump, who has made baseless claims that the process is ripe for fraud.

“We’re entering the final stretch of what nay be one of the most contentious, highly polarized election cycles that any of us have ever seen,” Benson said.

Her office has launched a webpage at Michigan.gov/ElectionSecurity to help people understand how the state protects the vote.

She said said that anyone who hears anything misleading about the election should report it to the sate at misinformation@michigan.gov.

“When you see something, say something and allow us to respond with trusted information that you can rely on to protect your voice and your vote this year,” Benson said.

The state Legislature this week approved a measure that would give local clerks an extra day to prepare absentee ballots for processing, though they still won’t be allowed to count them before 7 a.m. Election Day.

Benson praised the move, but also called on the Legislature to OK even longer processing time ahead of Election Day. She also wants the Legislature to OK bills that would require local clerks to follow up on absentee signature problems and that would allow ballots postmarked by Election Day but that arrive a little late can be counted.

She also urged the federal government to provide monetary aid to help states handle the election during the pandemic.



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