GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The November 2020 election, which happened in the midst of a global pandemic, increased calls for racial equity in policing and an often bitter partisan divide across the nation, came with a long wait for many results as the counting process was delayed by a huge number of absentee ballots.
“Every single ballot in Michigan will be counted,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson promised at a Wednesday afternoon briefing, saying counts were ongoing in Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
Benson said she was optimistic that the majority of the ballots will be tabulated by the end of the day and officials could announce unofficial results soon.
“We are on track to have results by Friday but could have results much sooner,” she said.
Benson said Wednesday evening that of about 5.2 million total votes cast, 3.3 million were cast absentee, handily surpassing Michigan’s previous absentee record of 1.6 million, which was set in August.
At the top of the ticket was a hotly contested race between former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Republican President Donald Trump. NBC News projected Biden would take Michigan, even though the race was too close to call across the nation as of Thursday morning.
“(2016) was a different feeling than right now in terms of the number of people who have been engaged, the people who understand that it made a difference by their not voting in 2016,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, who was not on the ballot this time around but who did spend time campaigning for Democratic candidates, said Tuesday night, long before the state was called. “That they’re impacted by what happens in government at every level whether they vote or not. Either, way, you can choose not to vote, but you can’t choose not to be impacted by the people that are elected. And so I think there’s a very different sense. And now with COVID-19, there’s a real understanding that we need somebody that’s going to have a national plan and is actually going to be able to move us through this to be able to get on with our lives, as well as all the chaos and division we’ve seen. So it’s very different, I think, than it was four years ago. Nobody’s taking anything for granted.”
With coronavirus cases surging in many parts of the country, including here in Michigan, the response to the pandemic is a key issue for many. But it’s not the only thing at stake: the economy, health care and climate change remain important issues.
Congress, too, has been grappling with the pandemic. With control divided between chambers — Democrats hold the House and Republicans the Senate — lawmakers have struggled to pass another relief package.
In the campaign to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Gary Peters fended off a challenge from Republican John James, NBC News projects. That race was too close to call for 24 hours after polls closed in most of the state.
As they are every two years, every U.S. House of Representatives seat is again up for election. Seats that cover West Michigan include the 2nd, 3rd and 6th districts:
In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican Bill Huizenga beat his opponent Democrat Bryan Berghoef.
In the 3rd District, News 8 is projecting Republican Peter Meijer will beat Democrat Hillary Scholten. The seat was truly up for grabs this time for the first time in years after Rep. Justin Amash, an independent, did not seek reelection.
In the 6th District, longtime Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican, declared victory early Wednesday over Democratic challenger state Rep. Jon Hoadley.
There were three contested state House races in West Michigan:
60th District: The Associated Press is reporting Democrat Julie Rodgers will defeat Republican Gary Mitchell in the campaign to fill the seat Rep. Hoadley is vacating.
61st District: Democrat Christine Morse has declared victory. The Associated Press initially called Republican Bronwyn Haltom as the winner. However, the AP since retracted that call and will not declare a winner until the state certifies the results.
73rd District: Republican Bryan Posthumus defeated Democratic and U.S. Taxpayers candidates to fill an open seat.
Residents also voted for two Michigan Supreme Court justices. Incumbent Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and attorney Elizabeth Welch, both of whom were nominated by Democrats, declared victory. That would flip the majority from conservatives to liberals.
Michigan voters overwhelmingly adopted two amendments to the state constitution. One changes how royalties paid by developers of state-owned minerals — primarily oil and natural gas — can be spent under a popular program that buys land for public use and supports projects such as construction of trails, playgrounds and boat launches. The other requires a search warrant before police examine a wireless phone or other electronic devices.
News 8 is projecting the Grand Rapids voters have approved two proposals that will shift the way local elections are held. | More
News 8 is projecting Barry County voters have rejected a $25 million bond to fund the construction of a new sheriff’s office and jail.
Voters have approved a 30-year, $1.78 million bond for Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. The money will pay for construction at Lee Middle and High School, which saw part of the building collapse in 2019, a new AC system, disability accessibility, safety, a new band room, and a new community wellness center.
In Kalamazoo County, voters narrowly approved a housing millage that would raise $50 million over eight years.
West Michigan sheriff’s offices also faced challenges:
- In Kalamazoo County, longtime sheriff Richard Fuller, a Democrat, defeated a challenge by retired Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Capt. Shannon Bagley, a Republican.
- In Kent County, News 8 is projecting that Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, a Republican, will retain her seat.
- In Muskegon County, Democratic Prosecutor D.J. Hilson and Sheriff Michael Poulin will keep their offices after fending off challenges.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.