Michigan may not know full election results until Friday, SOS warns

Posted at 8:01 AM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 08:01:53-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan is expecting to see a massive turnout for the 2020 general election, and the Michigan Department of State is warning people that it may take a few days to get the total results.

RELATED: Here's how absentee ballots will be tabulated in Michigan on Election Day

That means we may not know who gets Michigan's 16 electoral votes at the usual time.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State said there have already been 2.1 million absentee ballots returned ahead of the election, with another 1 million ballots requested that have yet to be returned. That's a record for Michigan, and they expect 60-70% of the total vote to come in absentee. That means Michigan could see more than 5 million votes in the election, which it hasn't seen since 2008

In 2016, Michigan had 4,874,619 people turnout for the election.

The reason it could take a few days to get the total vote counted is the way the state counts absentee ballots.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said it will take time to tabulate and process every absentee ballot. Per Michigan law, clerks cannot begin tabulation until 7 a.m. on Nov. 3.

Related: Your guide to the 2020 election
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In October, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a law that will allow city and township clerks to prepare absentee ballots a little earlier. They still cannot begin counting absentee ballots until the day of the election.

Absentee ballots in Michigan are put into a secrecy sleeve, and then the secrecy sleeve is placed in a larger envelope that is sealed, signed, and dated, and then returned to your local clerk.

Under the bill, workers can begin prepping absentee ballots at 10 a.m. on Nov. 2 until 8 p.m. They can open the outer envelope and take out the secrecy sleeve. Workers cannot take the ballot out of the secrecy sleeve, but they can sort ballots, and any ballot not in a secrecy sleeve should be put in one right away. Then, the number on the pull-off portion of your ballot can be checked to match the number in the clerk's internal city.

Under the bill, only Michigan cities that have at least 25,000 residents can do this. According to the Secretary of State's office, about 50 cities have said they will pre-process ballots.

According to the state, they are expecting misinformation from many sources during the period after the election and before all votes are counted. Their plan, the state said, is to call out the misinformation, share accurate information, and remind people that their vote matters.

The state said that if either candidate were to declare victory when it wasn't clearly demonstrated by the number of ballots counted, then the state will share out the numbers. A candidate doesn't declare victory.

The state is encouraging people who haven't turned in their absentee ballots to do so in-person at your local clerk's office or at the dropbox in your jurisdiction. You can still request an absentee ballot, but the state is also saying you should do it in person.