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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

MI Secretary Of State Forecasts Delayed Primary Election Results

Some Republican are echoing President Donald Trump's claims that an increase in voting by mail will lead to fraud, others campaigning and in charge of running elections disagree.
washingtontimes.com
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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is forecasting an election "as secure as ever" but with delayed results.

Michigan’s top election official is already advising voters that results from Tuesday’s presidential primary will likely be late.

In a conference with reporters Thursday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson cautioned the results from the Michigan primary will almost certainly be late.

EXPECT DELAYS

State lawmakers have, thus far, failed to update the law despite pleas from local clerks asking to open and count absentee ballots ahead of the election. Currently it’s not until the morning of election day.

Benson said lawmakers need to update the law to match the new rights voters have.

“To the extent that I’ve see partisanship impact our ability to get easy things through—it’s been very disheartening and disappointing. But I’m optimistic and hopeful that our clerks and many legislators on both sides of the aisle want to lead.”

Benson’s office reports there’s been an 80 percent increase in absentee ballots with over 500,000 AV ballots that have already been returned to local clerks. This is the first statewide election with no-excuse absentee voting and same day registration.

There are a  myriad of bills in the state legislature sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans—some with more teeth than others—but the bills that had advanced the farthest stalled out on the floor of the state Senate when Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) tabled Senator and former Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s (R-Holly) bills in February.

“It’s to me amazing that it’s been such a hard lift to kind of communicate that effectively. But, I’m hopeful that Tuesday will show even more why that additional time is necessary for moving forward,” said Benson.

ELECTION SECURITY 

After evidence of Russian-linked Facebook ads appeared targeting the 2016 election in Michigan, Benson says there haven’t been any red flags this year.

“No, there’s no credible evidence that any foreign governments—or any entities domestic or foreign—have attempted or effectively meddled with our election system here in Michigan.”

Benson underscored it’s important for voters to know delayed election results do not mean inaccurate results.

SPOILED BALLOTS 

In the days since the South Carolina primary the field of Democratic candidates has winnowed dramatically. Democratic frontrunners Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren have dropped out of the race ahead of Michigan’s primary.

Benson reported as of Wednesday, over 13,000 ballots had been spoiled with an opportunity for those voters to recast their vote for a candidate who’s still in the race.

In order to do so, a voter can submit a written request and send it to their local clerk by mail. But that request has to be received by 2p.m. Saturday. Otherwise, a voter can spoil their AV ballot in person at the clerk’s office up until 4 p.m. Monday.

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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