GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State elections officials are expecting 2.25 million ballots to be cast in the Nov. 8 election, about half of them absentee.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office released the latest absentee ballot data Tuesday, two weeks out from the Nov. 8 election. It said that 1,810,569 absentee ballots had been requested. Of those, 771,967 were already returned — about 339,000 of them in the last week.
At the same point in 2018, before Michigan implemented no-reason absentee voting, 1,006,788 absentee ballots had been requested and 447,301 returned. In all, about 900,000 absentee ballots were returned by Election Day 2018.
A large volume of absentee ballots slows the counting process. Election officials anticipate the count will not be finished statewide until Wednesday night and reminded voters that means staff are working meticulously to make sure all votes are recorded accurately.
New state rules passed in September allow for two days of pre-processing, but some jurisdictions will not take advantage of that because the law came too late to get workers lined up or because they’re too small for pre-processing to make much difference.
“I think it was perhaps lost on lawmakers that you can’t just snap your fingers and have staff in place and security in place to ensure that pre-processing happens. It takes time to develop all that,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told News 8 earlier this month. “And with the late passage of this legislation and the minimal time given, we don’t have much of that.”
Those jurisdictions will start processing on Election Day as usual, though of course no results will be posted until after polls close at 8 p.m.
ELECTION COMPLAINT HOTLINE
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan says it has appointed an assistant U.S. attorney to handle complaints about voting rights violations, threats of violence to election workers or election fraud. People with such complaints can call the U.S. Attorney’s hotline at 616.808.2140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said in a Tuesday statement. “Similarly, election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”
Voting rights violation complaints may also be directed to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division at 800.253.3931 or online.
In the event of an active emergency or crime at your polling place, you should still call 911.
Michigan voters are deciding the races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, judgeships, school boards and more, as well as three ballot proposals, including one that would enshrine the right to abortions in the state constitution.
The state is advising absentee voters to return ballots in person to their clerk’s office or an official drop box at this point so you can feel confident it won’t get delayed in the mail. If your ballot isn’t back to your clerk by 8 p.m. Election Day, it will not get counted. A Nov. 8 postmark is not good enough.
You can also vote in person just as you always have. Polls will open at 7 a.m. Nov. 8 and close at 8 p.m. You can go to the SOS website to view your sample ballot so you’re familiar with all the races and can research the candidates and confirm the location of your polling place.
Whether in person or absentee, remember it’s a long ballot — check both sides to make sure you cast your vote for all the offices and measures.
It’s too late to register to vote online or by mail, but you can still do it in person at your local clerk’s office until polls close on Election Day.