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More than one million absentee ballots cast in Michigan's primary election

Posted at 7:59 PM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 19:59:25-04

DETROIT (WXYZ)  — 7 Action News crews observed the counting of local absentee ballots at Huntington Place in Detroit from the media observation area. We noticed some policies in place to prevent disputes such as those seen in 2020.

During the counting of absentee ballots in November 2020 at the former Cobo Hall, Republican observers complained that all who wanted in were not allowed. The city does limit the number of observers from each party equally.

To ensure it is transparent this year, when media, Republican, Democrat, or non-partisan observers check in, their name and role are listed on a big screen.

As poll workers counted ballots on Tuesday you could see 138 from each category are allowed. There were people from each category present in numbers below that threshold.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says 1,315,112 absentee ballots were requested statewide and 1,069,107 submitted as of early afternoon Election Day, though more may be dropped off.

“So I would say there is a lot of enthusiasm for this primary and that is great to see,” said Benson.

It also means we might not know the results of close races right away. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says Michigan law bans clerks from counting absentee ballots prior to Election Day and, as a result, it is going to be a long day and night for poll workers.

“It may take us up to 24 hours after the polls close to count all of those hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots and make our unofficial results known,” said Benson.

Benson is calling on the legislature to provide extra time for processing absentee ballots ahead of Election Day come November to make it easier on workers. It is something you see in other states, but so far has not been implemented in Michigan.