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Expect Michigan's presidential primary results later than usual

Posted at 7:38 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 06:12:07-05

LANSING, Mich. — We are less than a week away from Michigan's primary election.

State officials are warning everyone, election results will not be as fast as they normally are.

Michigan's Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson says that's because of the surge of absentee ballots the state is seeing this election.

Tuesday's presidential primary marks the first major election to allow absentee voting without needing a reason, and state officials are seeing a major reaction.

"We have seen a significant increase in applications for absentee ballots," said Benson.

As of Thursday, more than a half a million absentee ballots have already been cast.

That's an 80% increase since the 2016 primary election.

State officials say, an increase in absentee ballots, means an increase in workload for clerks on election day.

"For this reason, unofficial results may be available a little later than we may want or expect," explained Benson.

Benson says the individual precincts aren't going to slow down the process, but counting absentee ballots might.

"What is different this year, is that a significant number of voters will be voting centrally, not at those precincts," said Benson. "Those tallies that you are going to be getting in the precinct are not going to be represented of the universal votes being casts because significantly more ballots are going to be sent to a central location and counted there."

In preparation for this increase, the city of Lansing is scheduling more people to work election night.

"We are going to work through things as quickly as we can to get the results in," said Lansing City Clerk, Chris Swope. "We will be totally transparent. If we are still processing ballots, we'll say where we are and how many we have processed and how many we have to go, it's only fair."

As state and city officials prepare for Tuesday's increased workload, they are also looking ahead to November to how to quicken the process.

Benson is calling on the Michigan legislature to change the law to allow clerks to assemble absentee ballots 75 days before the election, rather than 60.

"I am hopeful that Tuesday will show even more why that additional time is necessary for moving forward with our elections and the national spotlight that will be on our state throughout the year," said Benson.

Benson did not give an exact time or an estimation of how much longer it will take to get Tuesday's results, but she says we should expect to see them on Wednesday.

The Secretary of State's Office says -- as of noon Thursday, nearly 16,000 Michigan voters have chosen to have their absentee ballots disregarded.

That number likely related to the democratic presidential candidates who dropped out of the race before next week's primary election.

The office says it expects that number to rise.

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