More than 2.5 million people voted in Michigan in Tuesday’s statewide primary election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
That broke the record set in 2018 for an August primary, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years ago, 2.2 million voted. In 2020, more than 1.6 million voted absentee, breaking another record. Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment in November 2018 permitting no-reason absentee voting.
The SOS reports that polling places across the state “ran smoothly on Tuesday, with few if any lines, and distancing protocols that prevented crowding.”
“The success of the primary proved once again that Michigan can hold safe, accessible, secure and on-schedule elections during the pandemic, and this will serve as our blueprint for the presidential election,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “To ensure similar success and safety in November, when turnout will double if not triple, I am calling on the state legislature to act now and support all clerks, election workers and voters.”
The Secretary of State notes that two Michigan laws — one preventing the processing of absentee ballots before polls open and the other requiring ballots to arrive at clerk offices or drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Election Day — could “cause significant delays in November and disenfranchise thousands of voters.”
Benson and clerks have asked the Legislature to take up legislation reforming the process, as the Advance previously reported.
For Tuesday’s election, most of the boards counting absentee ballots did not finish until early Wednesday morning, and results were not in from all counties until Wednesday evening, more than 24 hours after polls closed.
As of Wednesday, more than 10,000 absentee ballots had been rejected, a number that is expected to climb on Thursday and in following days. It had not yet been determined how many of those rejections were due to late arrival, but this was the cause of more than half the rejections in the March primary.
Turnout is expected to increase “dramatically” in November, per the SOS, and 2.4 million Michiganders are on a permanent absent-voter list or have requested to have their November ballot sent to them by mail.
Benson warned that without changes to election law, tens of thousands of Michigan voters could be disenfranchised and the nation could wait “days for Michigan results in order to determine the outcome of the presidential election.” Michigan was the closest state in 2016, with now-President Trump winning by only 10,704 votes.
“Democracy is a team sport, and I am hopeful state lawmakers will soon step up and do their part,” said Benson.