The ‘Gander has your on-the-ground look at what’s happening inside Michigan’s precincts during an extraordinary election.
MICHIGAN—We’ve reached a historic Election Day, ‘Ganders.
In the midst of a global pandemic in an unprecedented year, Michiganders are expected to break turnout records in the 2020 vote.
Michigan voters have been casting early ballots since September (check out some of your neighbors’ stories of voting below), and local city clerks have assembled new teams and updated machines to process ballots securely and efficiently (see exactly how they’ll do it here).
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 and we have our team of journalists on the ground, bringing you live updates from precincts across the state for the full picture at just how Michiganders have come together to pull off an extraordinary election.
Bookmark this page so you don’t miss a thing.
November 4, 2020 // 4:32 PM EST
One cause of the delay in declaring Michigan’s results on Wednesday comes from northern Michigan’s Antrim County. The results in Antrim are being investigated after the usually stronghold of the Republican Party appeared to vote for Biden. The longer counting period Michiganders braced for is letting them verify their results without undue burdens of speed.
Antrim County’s Republican Clerk Sheryl Guy said there wasn’t any issue with the count itself—that count was correct. Shesaid there appeared to be an error in the electronic tap used to report the vote. There were, she told the Detroit Free Press, no problems inherent in the computer cards or tape themselves, but that the results were somehow disrupted when those cards were transported in sealed bags.
Antrim will be verifying the votes cast provided a lawsuit from Donald Trump’s campaign permits them to continue doing so. His campaign filed to stop Michigan’s vote Wednesday afternoon.
Though the number of votes affected is relatively small, the dedication to ensure an accurate vote count from Michigan’s leadership and bracing the state for a longer-than-normal counting period affords Antrim the freedom to verify their votes and act with an abundance of caution without extreme time pressures.
November 4, 2020 // 3:29 PM EST
As Democratic cities like Detroit finish counting every ballot, President Trump has filed a lawsuit to stop Michigan’s count.
While Michigan prepared to count it’s final ballots, the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit to block the rest of the ballots from being counted.
Trump’s campaign argues it was not given sufficient access to monitor the election counting process as promised under Michigan law. As a normal part of Michigan’s election process, law allows both Republican and Democratic observers to monitor the vote counting process.
Cities still counting ballots include Detroit, a Democrat-majority city. Local officials told The ‘Gander Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that Democrats tried to balance out dozens of Republicans present to challenge the validity of Detroiters’ ballots.
Observing the count of an election on behalf of a political party is an ordinary part of the process and often remains tense but respectful. Yahoo News has video of the routine count from inside the TCF Center Wednesday morning.
At the time the suit was filed, Biden led Trump by about 46,000 votes in Michigan, four times the margin by which Trump won the state in 2016. The remaining votes, predominantly absentee ballots from traditionally Democratic communities, would likely widen that lead. Halting the count immediately on it’s own would not reverse that lead.
The Detroit Free Press reports that despite word from the Trump campaign of the lawsuit, as of reporting no such suit had been docketed with the Michigan Court of Claims and no specifics about the allegation from the Trump campaign were made clear.
November 4, 2020 // 12:00 PM EST
While 100,000 ballots from across the state are still being counted, a handful of races can already be declared. Thanks in part to overwhelming support from their districts, Reps. Brenda Lawrence, Rashida Tlaib, Andy Levin and Debbie Dingell have all secured reelection.
The congresspeople, all from either Detroit or it’s metropolitan area, have made names for themselves in Congress, some on their own and some aided by long political lineages in Michigan, but all earning their seats through representing their constituencies well.
November 4, 2020 // 12:02 AM EST
With over half of Michigan’s precincts still out and with few of those precincts having reported their absentee ballots, getting results on election night is unlikely. And that’s okay, explains The ‘Gander’s political reporter Katelyn Kivel explains why a longer count is a more secure and accurate count, especially during a historic election.
And from the Secretary of State to voters to our contributing therapist Erica Carulli, Michiganders are talking about how to make it through the next few days of uncertainty.
And you can keep updated on results with our results live blog!
November 3, 2020 // 10:59 PM EST
Michigan residents who are following the election results in real time are tuned in to devices to follow both the presidential and statewide elections. At the same time, Michigan’s election officials are still hard at work, working to offically close the polls and transport ballots to their next destination in their journey to deciding Michigan’s fate.
Kamali Clora is the chairperson of precent #149 at Wayne State University. He told The ‘Gander that some workers could return home later than 11 p.m.
“Some of us have to deliver the ballots to the Department of Elections, so that can result in getting home close to midnight,” Clora said.
He mentioned an increase of voter appreciation—for election officials. Many Michiganders stopped to thank Clora and his staff for the work they did to safeguard democracy.
“That was really nice and it gave us a lot of motivation to continue to do our best for the community,” he said.
In Southfield, voters of the 30th and 31st precent were sure to thank the election inspectors by way of free food: first, lunch courtesy of the local chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, a historically Black organization helping to spur Sen. Kamala Harris’ vice-presidential bid. Dinner came from the local Benito’s Pizza.
“Things have been steady here,” Jessica Taylor, an election inspector assigned to the precincts housed at Hope United Methodist Church. “We haven’t had too many crowds.”
Thanksgiving is coming early for some Michiganders by way of simple gratitude.
November 3, 2020 // 8:34 PM EST
Attorney General Dana Nessel was alerted to trouble at the polls in Warren. Addressing polling place issues, and in particular voter intimidation, is something Nessel worked in the field on this Election Day, so she was involved in investigating this rouble.
The incident turned out to be a ruckus between Biden and Trump supporters. Not the kind of polling violence some Michiganders worried about, but a common ruckus. The supporters of both candidates were singing together.
They sang “God Bless America” as the election wound down in Warren.
As Dana Nessel tweeted, that was Good Trouble.
November 3, 2020 // 8:00 PM EST
People in line to vote right now have the right to cast their ballots. Michiganders reading this from their polling place shouldn’t go home yet!
The next thing that happens is that ballots get gathered and securely transported to the facilities where counting takes place. Counting has been underway at those locations since polls opened at 7 a.m., processing a record number of over 3 million early votes cast.
Counterintuitively, that actually means results will take longer.
Early votes need to be processed and counted in a more involved process than polling place votes, which means that it takes far longer per ballot to count those record early votes. Add to that surprising turnout across Michigan, particularly in Macomb County and Muskegon County, and you have a recipe for a long count.
Michigan’s leaders have repeatedly stressed the process of counting the votes will be secure, thorough and accurate. Benson is optimistic, however, that the count might take less time than the initial 80-hour estimate, but cautioned in a call with reporters that still having results on election night is highly unlikely.
Even precinct totals, the information reporters use to track the percentage of votes counted in an area and help call winners on election night, might not be entirely accurate, Benson cautioned. That is because some areas have a centralized counting location for absentee and early votes which are not factored into precinct totals.
Which means the process will take as long as the process takes for a fair and accurate count, officials said.
November 3, 2020 // 7:48 PM EST
As the sun set on Metro Detroit, an unusually modest turnout of in-person voters took to the polls in local communities to make their choices on Election Day 2020—but there were a few surprises.
At Hamtramck High School, a group of at least six bikers honked their horns in support of Joe Biden, while local firefighters and politicians pitched their case for support at the ballot box, respectively.
According to Precinct Chair Seth Meyers, the high school was expecting less than one-third its usual turnout of 2,000 people due to the surging popularity of absentee ballots.
Meyers said there were a “couple conflicts among election challengers in the precinct,” which he chalked up to “discrepancies in communication” among the two parties.
Most voters stopped by between noon and 1 p.m., the twelve-year Election Day veteran said.
In Ferndale, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel stopped by at around 5 p.m. according to Precinct Chairman Tom Newman, along with her “security detail and entourage.”
“That was pretty fun,” Newman said, adding that the precinct was taken aback by the surprise nature of Nessel’s appearance.
Aside from the Nessel’s visit, other surprises on the day included a small number of voters who wore campaign gear to the polls.
“Everyone is usually quick to take it off,” Newman said.
Much like their neighbors to the southeast, the city saw a relatively small in-person turnout, with about 25 percent of voters showing up in person according to Newman as of about 6:15 p.m.
“There’s never been like a rush,” Newman said. “Absentee voting in Ferndale made it happen.”
The city had plenty of workers to ensure a successful Election Day, Newman added.
“We were well staffed this time,” he said. “Everybody can take breaks, nobody’s getting fatigued.”
November 3, 2020 // 6:44 PM EST
In Lansing, Michigan’s capital, things have been smooth and quiet, including stories about fraternities and local NAACP activists helping people survive the lines at the polls at East Lansing City Hall. Ingham County, where Lansing is located, is poised to shatter voting records. Our photographer on the ground was at the Capitol Building to see the sunrise and was there to see it set.
In Macomb, a critical pivot county, lines have been ever-present at polling places showing just how important it is to win. It serves as an important reminder that as long as you are in line when polls close, you have the right to vote in the election.
And of course we were on the ground in Metro Detroit, where voters overcame obstacles without stress. We got some amazing advice for both the election and for life from a poll worker while we were on the ground: “You can do all you can but stressing is not going to do anything but stress you out even further.”
There is still a little more than an hour to get to the polls, Michiganders!
November 3, 2020 // 6:18 PM EST
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the running mate of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, spent about two and a half hours in Michigan on election day.
She campaigned alongside Michigan’s Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Detroit) when addressing sheet metal workers in Southfield. Then she got to know the “real Detroit” at an Apostolic house of worship on Seven Mile alongside Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.
She departed around 4 for Delaware, where she will meet up with running mate Joe Biden to watch as results being to come in this evening.
November 3, 2020 // 5:29 PM EST
In a diverse corner of southwest Detroit, election workers and voters took to the polls at Maybury Elementary School, overcoming what began as a stress and anxiety-filled day to ensure a mostly smooth voting process.
“My peers are a little stressed due to the anxiety. I guess people like it, but I don’t get stressed out,” said Chairperson Brenda Bland, who has worked her current position for 15 years.
“You can do all you can but stressing is not going to do anything but stress you out even further.”
A contentious moment occurred earlier in the day, however, when a Republican election challenger took issue with a voter who attempted to vote without an ID. Election challengers are volunteers sent by members of organizations to keep an eye on any potential wrongdoing.
The GOP representative challenged the person’s attempt to vote to the precinct captain, but their request was denied and the person was ultimately allowed to vote.
“The law states that they don’t have to provide a reason as to why they didn’t have identification,” said Democratic election challenger Susan Wolfe, who added that the GOP representative left afterward.
She was one of three in the building along with a gerrymandering challenger.
“We reported everything that happened and have been in touch on various issues,” Wolfe added.
While the afternoon mostly went off without a hitch, Wolfe said she was concerned about the way the day’s events would unfold regarding the presidential election.
“There’s a huge concern of calling the election before all the ballots have been tabulated, a huge concern that the far right may force concessions of ballots before they’re tabulated,” she said.
Meanwhile amid the concern and anxiety, a modest afternoon turnout of voters performed their civic duties and filed out sporadically and serenely, enjoying a pleasant stroll through the quiet neighborhood on a sunny day with highs in the mid-50s.
November 3, 2020 // 4:24 PM EST
Macomb has been the definitive pivot county in Michigan going into 2020. Pivot counties are places that voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 but pivoted to Trump in 2016. With the razor-thin margins Trump won Michigan by in 2016, these pivot counties are more important than ever.
And the picture on the ground looks different in 2020, according to Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor.
“Trump is just bad for our country, he’s bad for the city of Sterling Heights, he’s bad for Macomb County,” Taylor, a Republican, said on MSNBC. “What I’m hearing from our neighbors and friends and family members is that.. we need strong leadership, we need somebody that’s focused on getting our kids back to school, getting our jobs back and [Trump’s] more focused on his Twitter account. So I think that the voters of Sterling Heights and Macomb County are going to see that, see his failed leadership on a number of different fronts and vote for change.”
Lines across Macomb County, but especially in Sterling Heights, have been long much of the day, showing the intensity with which this battleground is being contested.
November 3, 2020 // 3:10 PM EST
What was expected to be one of the state’s most contentious and chaotic elections in recent memory was much calmer than expected as of Tuesday afternoon, according to local city clerks who spoke with The ‘Gander.
In Ferndale, nearly 10,000 absentee ballots were issued by the city—and were returned prior to Election Day at an almost 90 percent clip, according to City Clerk Marne McGrath.
In total, about 94% of absentee ballots, or 9,264, had been returned as of as Tuesday at 12:45 p.m.
“That’s amazing, we’ve never had that,” McGrath said.
Even with the record absentee turnout, she said she still expected a “huge” gathering of voters later in the day after work. The city has nearly 17,000 registered voters.
Ferndale’s absentee numbers piggybacked off of 2016’s turnout, during which about 73% of voters in Ferndale went the absentee route, she added.
If the two elections’ numbers are any indication, absentee voting is poised to become the new favorite way for Ferndale’s residents to vote.
“Usually it’s the other way around, we get 70% in-person and 30% absentee,” McGrath.
Meanwhile in Hamtramck, City Clerk August Gitschlag said that there were “no real lines” as of Tuesday afternoon in the city, as most of the city’s residents had also submitted absentee ballots.
He added that most of those who submitted ballots remotely were first time absentee voters.
November 3, 2020 // 3:10 PM EST
The polls were packed on Election Day morning in Dearborn Heights according to City Councilman Bill Bazzi, who was among those casting his ballot at Crestwood High School around the 10 a.m. hour.
“I think this is the most important day in US history,” Bazzi said.
The tight-knit, heavily Arab American community saw a considerable turnout among young and first time voters, he added.
“I’ve been mentoring young kids and I always encourage them to exercise their right to vote,” he said. “I’ve seen a bunch of 18 year olds who showed up to vote, and they were really inspired.”
November 3, 2020 // 2:50 PM EST
Things are all quiet at the City of Farmington’s 2nd precinct, but just across Grand River there are lines in Redford.
November 3, 2020 // 2:00 PM EST
Jewish Headstones Vandalized with ‘MAGA’ Graffiti in Michigan After Trump Visit. Here’s How the Community is Responding.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Police are investigating vandalism that left several headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids spray-painted with “TRUMP” and “MAGA” before President Donald Trump held his final campaign rally in the western Michigan city.
Grand Rapids police officers on Monday found six headstones spray-painted with red paint at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery.
The vandalism appeared to be “relatively new,” with “TRUMP” spray-painted on the back of four headstones, and “MAGA” — an acronym for the Trump campaign slogan Make America Great Again — spray-painted on two others, Sgt. John Wittkowski, a spokesman for the city’s police department, said in a statement.
The vandalized graves were discovered hours before Trump visited Grand Rapids late Monday night in his final campaign rally before Election Day. Police said no evidence was left at the scene.
Wittkowski said the Grand Rapids Police Department had made no arrests or identified any suspects in the vandalism as of Tuesday morning.
The Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus said in a statement Monday that it was outraged by “the desecration,” and said the vandalism just before Election Day was intended “to send an intimidating message to the president’s opponents, and particularly, Jewish voters.”
“But it has failed. Grand Rapids’ Jewish community will not be cowed by this vile attack on Ahavas Israel,” the caucus said in its statement.
The Anti-Defamation League of Michigan said it was working with local law enforcement to investigate the vandalized graves and that it was “appalled by the reported desecration.”
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for federal authorities to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime and said it was offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
“The sacred sites of people of faith must be protected from vandalism that is meant to spread fear and intimidation,” the Michigan chapter’s executive director, Dawud Walid, said in a statement.
November 3, 2020 // 2:00 PM EST
Sen. Kamala Harris touched down in Metro Detroit at 1:35 p.m. on Election Day, planning to use some of the final hours of the campaign to mobilize Michigan voters. The ‘Gander will be on the ground with Harris throughout her trip.
Harris’ role as the first mixed-race woman of the Caribbean diaspora can’t be overstated, as Kalamazoo County Commissioner Stephanie Moore explained to The ‘Gander recently.
Her using the final hours in the election in Michigan are a clear indicator of how important the state is to both campaigns.
“We want to remind everybody obviously that the polls close at 8 o’clock tonight and it’s important that everyone votes, and of course that the path to the White House and the path to determining who will be the next President of the United States, without question, runs through Michigan,” Harris told reporters. “So I’m just here to remind people in Detroit that, that they are seen and heard by Joe and me, and also that they may actually decide the outcome of this race.”
November 3, 2020 // 12:21 PM EST
Looking to Laketown in Muskegon County, the expectations of shattering election records seem likely.
“It’s been really steady, really busy,” Laketon Township Clerk Christina Achterhoff told MLive. “I was really surprised because of all the absentee ballots we received.”
The township of 7,000 residents has three polling places, and even hours after the polls opened lines remained at all three locations, Achterhoff said. About 10% of the requested absentee ballots in Laketon weren’t returned, meaning those voters have to have their absentee ballot spoiled before they can get a new one. That can hold the lines up.
But the lines might also point to the remarkable turnout Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson expects. More than 3 million early votes were returned before polls opened, reports the Lansing State Journal, and the State Department estimates at least 5 million votes will be cast in the 2020 election.
Just under 5 million Michiganders voted in 2016.
November 3, 2020 // 11:55 AM EST
Attorney General Dana Nessel reports Flint residents are getting fraudulent robocalls with incorrect election information attempting to deter them from the polls.
These calls allegedly claim that due to long lines, Flint residents are urged to vote tomorrow. There will be no voting tomorrow. For a voter’s voice to be heard they must be in line to vote when polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. No vote cast after that point will be valid.
“Obviously this is FALSE and an effort to suppress the vote,” tweeted Nessel. “No long lines and today is the last day to vote. Don’t believe the lies! Have your voice heard.”
November 3, 2020 // 11:02 AM EST
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reiterated that it could take days to know who the winner is during an interview with MSNBC this morning. Michigan’s priority is an accurate and complete count, so Gov. Whitmer was not willing to promise results tonight, or even tomorrow, she said.
“The vote is not final until the votes are final,” Whitmer said. “This could take a few days.”
The Secretary of State’s office told The ‘Gander that the process could take 80 or more hours based on how long it takes to count early voting ballots and the tidal wave of early votes Michigan has seen. And already there are lines in places like Sterling Heights showing an energized voter turnout on Election Day itself.
Michigan’s leadership has repeatedly called for patience and trust with the system, as accuracy is a higher priority for the state than speed.
November 3, 2020 // 10:20 AM EST
At 7:15 Tuesday morning, the sun rose over the Capitol Building in Lansing. For fifteen minutes, Lansingites had been voting before day broke. And so far, things have moved smoothly at the polls.
David Copedge of the Lansing chapter of the NAACP has been working with other area nonprofits to help ensure peaceful and safe voting and resisting any voter intimidation in the capital city.
“We will make sure that all the polls are covered with poll watchers and challengers and those things are very important,” Copedge told WLNS.
Ingham County, where Lansing is located, saw 30,000 absentee ballots returned in 2016. On a Thursday press call, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said there had been nearly 80,000 absentee ballots received in 2020, meaning before daybreak those first voters in line were nearly the 90,000th voters in Ingham.
Polling places have been largely quiet and orderly in Lansing this morning.
November 3, 2020 // 9:50 AM EST
In the first hour of voting, Detroit polls are operating smoothly. The Coleman A. Young Community Center has no wait times for the local voters who dropped off their ballots first thing on Election Day. A few voters went inside at a time to safely vote with proper distancing.
Detroit is one of the seven Michigan cities that has extra election officials from the US Department of Justice on the ground to monitor the integrity of voting and upholding federal voting rights.
In Midtown, student and faculty volunteers are manning the polls at Wayne State University’s (WSU) law school where a slow but steady stream of voters have been coming in.
“It was important for me to vote today because our country needs change,” said Detroit voter Ronald Gillam. “We need a compassionate person inside the White House.”
Kamali Clora is chairperson for Detroit’s 149th precinct at WSU and told The ‘Gander that the election “has been running really smoothly today.”
“It hasn’t been too busy, but it’s helped us to be able to be on top of our game with the pandemic protocols and making sure everyone is safe, and voters are feeling comfortable when exercising their right to vote,” Clora said.
Clora said the poll workers in his precinct are rotating shifts to support one another and incoming voters throughout the day.
A buzz is also building in the city as Detroiters expect Sen. Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket, to spend the afternoon around the region.
The ‘Gander will be on the ground with Harris. Follow us here for updates.
November 2, 2020 // 11:11 AM EST
Michigan’s Secretary of State has repeatedly cautioned Michiganders that it’s unlikely results will be known election night. The State Department estimated in a conversation with The ‘Gander that the process of counting the ballots in such a massive election will take about 80 hours.
That tracks with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson who has set Friday as her goal to publish the state’s unofficial results and has said that accuracy and a full count must be higher priorities than speed.
November 2, 2020 // 10:57 AM EST
Michigan is on pace to smash records yet again in the November election as more than 2.5 million Michiganders voted early. That’s more than double the 2016 early vote and puts Michigan halfway to it’s 2016 turnout before the sun even rises on Election Day.
We look at what’s motivating Michiganders to vote early and how things compare to 2016’s election in detail to get an idea of what’s in store for Nov. 3 this year.
October 22, 2020 // 1:44 PM EDT
A panel of three Republican judges appointed by former Gov. Rick Snyder reversed a lower court ruling that ensured all ballots postmarked before Election Day would be counted. Now, a ballot must be received by the local clerk by 8 p.m. election night, Nov. 3.
As a result, Michiganders voting absentee should drop their ballot off, either at their local clerk’s office or at a ballot drop box in their district.
But Before You Go…
Are you headed to the polls Nov. 3? We’ve got some resources for you to keep handy:
- 5 Trusted Sources for Researching Your Michigan Ballot in the 2020 Election
- 6 Ways to Troubleshoot Voter Intimidation at the Polls in Michigan
- Here’s How to Turn in Your Ballot at One of Michigan’s 700+ Drop-Off Location
- The ‘Gander’s Guide to Voting in Michigan in 2020
- Michiganders Are Confident Their State Is Ready for November. Here’s Why.