The ‘Gander’s political reporter unpacks why election night’s uncounted ballots could tip the scales later in the week.
LANSING, Mich.—Tonight on Nov. 3, there will not be election results nor winners projected in Michigan.
Election results are about getting an accurate account of the votes reported to the public as quickly as possible. But when accuracy is compromised even slightly for speed, the result can be disastrous.
As of this reporting, fewer than half of Michigan’s precincts have reported in, and many of those precincts may not have included absentee votes in their count. In places like Detroit, where turnout was more than half of registered voters—higher than it’s been for decades—election officials ended the night with some 20 more hours of expected counting.
Knowing President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by only 10,000 votes, a single city like Detroit could change the final election result.
As races are called this week, you can stay up-to-date on our results page where we are following Michigan’s key ballot items.
We at The ‘Gander will continue to follow results as they come in, but thanks to a record-shattering turnout, including well over a million absentee votes, it is clear those results won’t be known the night of Nov. 3. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has repeatedly stressed that a full picture of the results may not be known until Friday.
“I’m really here tonight to ask you all to be patient,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said from Ford Field on election night. “We’re going to count every single vote in the state of Michigan. No matter how long it takes, no matter what the candidates say, we’re going to work methodically and meticulously to count every single valid ballot. And that, and only that, will determine who wins every single race on the ballot in Michigan.”
Both the presidential and senate races were tight, and delays caused by how much longer it takes to count absentee ballots mean calling those races could potentially set up a situation much like Florida in 2000, where a disputed election and a haphazard recount cast the entire election into chaos for weeks. But ultimately, the delay in results is a good thing.
Even a single vote uncounted because of a desire to report the result faster is a voter disenfranchised. At its worst, the preference of speed at the expense of accuracy is what created that infamous election of 2000, where Florida’s election result was confused by overzealous members of the media wanting to declare a victory while the result was still in question.
“What we saw was citizens from both sides of the aisle respecting the process, respecting each other,” Benson said. “Polling locations were islands of calm with a steady stream of citizens casting ballots throughout the day.”
Every Michigan vote will count, and with an estimated nearly 6 million votes cast, Michigan’s voice will be clearer than ever before. And voters like Bridget Huff of Port Huron will not go unheard. Huff actually called this the best possible scenario for election night.
“The longer, the better. It means every vote is being counted,” said Huff. “Rushed counts mean flawed results.”
The next few days may be stressful or tumultuous. Huff said she was going to turn her phone off and try to get sleep. The ‘Gander’s contributor therapist Erica Carulli advises avoiding information overload in the days following the election.
“Staying in the present moment or being mindful of the present can also help. This keeps your focus on what’s directly happening instead of on all of the ‘what if’s’ swirling around in your head,” she wrote. “Trust yourself, listen to your intuition. If you need a break, take it. Then try again. When we can meditate, practice good self-care, and stay in the present moment, we are ultimately practicing and being mindful of letting go of the things out of our control.”
Put another way, as one poll worker told The ‘Gander on the ground today, stress only makes you stressed.
“You can do all you can, but stressing is not going to do anything but stress you out even further,” she said.
For now, ‘Ganders, get some sleep. We’ll check back in with you in the morning.