With Election Day two weeks away, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday said that nearly half of the 3 million absentee ballots requested have been returned.
“Voters who already have their absentee ballot should hand-deliver it to their city or township election clerk’s office or ballot drop box,” Benson said. “Voters who still plan to request an absentee ballot should visit their clerk’s office to make the request in person, and fill out and submit the ballot all in one trip.”
As of Monday, more than 1.5 million state residents had already cast absentee ballots. Benson reiterated that only absentee ballots received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 can be counted. She also said voters should not risk possible postal delays this close to the deadline.
“We have worked to ensure every citizen has a right to vote absentee in Michigan and have implemented multiple levels of secure protocols and best practices that have been time-tested over decades in other states,” said Benson. “That’s why we can say with confidence that only valid absentee ballots will be counted, and they will be tabulated by bipartisan pairs of election workers trained to ensure votes are tallied without political bias and in accordance with elections law.”
In the August primary, 2.5 million Michigan residents voted with 1.6 million voting absentee.
Benson, a Democrat, also said voting at polling places on Election Day will be safe and secure. Sites will have COVID-19-related personal protective equipment, which will include masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer. In addition, social distancing will be practiced.
On Friday, Benson issued a directive to prevent voter intimidation, clarifying that the open carry of firearms is not permitted in or within 100 feet of voting locations on Election Day.
“The right to vote is one of our most – if not the most – fundamental and sacred constitutional rights we hold as American citizens,” Benson said.
A legal challenge is expected to be filed.