Photo by Franz Knight
Photo by Franz Knight

Michigan has been preparing for Nov. 3 since before the pandemic began. Experts and Michiganders have faith in the system.

MICHIGAN—Well over a million Michiganders have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 election for weeks, but as the days tick down to Election Day more and more Michiganders are making their voices heard. 

Ashleigh Jennings from Troy is confident in the system that will collect and tabulate those votes and has little patience for what she sees as attempts to cast doubt on the process. 

“We know the votes matter and we need to give the process time to work,” she told The ‘Gander. “Folks will vote however they’re most comfortable—by absentee or in person—[and] we do not need to add to the chaos and confusion.”

She’s concerned about efforts to discourage voters with disingenuous worries or false information. And there have been attempts to do just that. But Jennings has a number of reasons to be passionate and confident, even in these uncertain times. 

Lake Effect magazine polling shows a majority of Michiganders agree.

Ballots Will Be Counted

One of the biggest concerns Michiganders have about the election is the fear that their absentee ballot won’t be counted. Largely this is related to the postal delays stemming from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s controversial cost-cutting measures that have already had an impact on Michigan’s elections. 

Bridget Mary McCormack, the Chief Justice of Michigan’s Supreme Court, delivered her ballot to her local clerk directly. In large part, she did it to just knock something off her to-do list.

“I had my ballot, it was easy to complete it and drop it off, so I did,” she told The ‘Gander. “I just wanted to knock something off.”

READ MORE: Here’s What Early Voting in Michigan Looks Like

But she also mentioned that her adult children didn’t get their primary ballots in time to cast them by mail in August. That didn’t motivate her decision, but it was something she considered. And she found comfort in the process. 

“I just wanted to know someone had my ballot,” she said, “I wanted to take it in person to be sure it was in.”

The Postal Service told The ‘Gander that ballots sent by mail should be sent by Monday, Oct. 19, but other ballot delivery options are available. Dropboxes are located all across Michigan, and like Justice McCormack Michiganders are free to deliver their ballots to their clerks’ offices. 

Even if a ballot arrives after polls close, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled so long as it arrives within two weeks and was postmarked Nov. 2 or earlier it will be counted, still election experts suggest voting as early as possible, especially since Republicans are challenging that decision.

You can track your absentee ballot on the state’s website.

Results Will Be Accurate

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is determined to get this right. She has been aggressively recruiting poll workers and ballot counters to help deal with expected record-breaking voter turnout and the more than a million absentee ballots already cast.

Benson warns though that the results likely won’t be known on election night. 

“If it takes a few extra days to ensure we have a full and accurate counting as a result of every race, that’s what it’s going to take,” Benson said on Meet the Press. “We’re going to be transparent throughout that whole process to make sure every citizen knows exactly where we are in the counting process and how many more ballots we have to get through.”

SEE ALSO: Voting in 2020: Your Guide to Creating an Election Plan in Michigan

And in Detroit, the entire resources of the city’s workforce will be dedicated to a rapid and accurate count of the election results, The ‘Gander reported. The concern Detroit’s mayor Mike Duggan and Benson share is that candidates might declare victory on election night, with votes still outstanding.

But diligent, accurate counting is the solution to that measure Benson is confident in. 

“To me, that’s just going to be another example of the type of misinformation and disinformation that we’re seeing multiple ways from multiple platforms and voices in this election cycle,” Benson said. “So, we are going to counter that misinformation with truth and accuracy.”

Issues Will Be Addressed

The elections in 2020 have been unlike any other. Owing both to a global health emergency and the first time Michiganders could vote absentee without giving a reason, more Michiganders have voted by mail than ever before. That’s exposed some gaps in the system ranging from accessibility options to the issues with the postal service.

And Detroit, seldom without some election hiccups, faced issues in the August primary with in-person voting. 

But Benson’s office is working to correct those problems in advance of the election. Her office is working with Detroit to address its concerns and has advocated for various policies to ensure votes sent by mail are counted quickly and fairly. 

Ingham County Clerk Barbra Byrum told The ‘Gander that local clerks in and around Lansing are braced for as much as possible as well.

“The local clerks in Ingham County, certainly, are well-equipped and are dedicated servants,” she said. “I am confident they will conduct a smooth election in November.”

RELATED: ‘I Honestly Can’t Imagine Not Voting’: This Michigan Councilwoman Heads to the Polls

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of attention, so Byrum’s office is offering support to those local clerks, particularly with absentee ballot preparation and counting. 

“We are going to have a very high turnout,” Byrum said. “It’s going to be high, especially in absentee ballots.” 

In Kalamazoo’s County Clerk’s office, election official Sarah Josi is also confident. 

“It’s just volume,” she told The ‘Gander. “It’s just more work for these absentee voter counting boards. They’ve had to beef up their staff in the local jurisdictions.”

Early voting in Michigan is already underway, you can get more information from the Secretary of State. You can follow The ‘Gander’s election hub for ongoing coverage of the upcoming election.