Election officials say they’re well poised to handle the influx of coming ballots for the May 3 elections, especially with an up-to-date count of Michigan’s 8 million registered voters.
Need to Know
- Michigan’s voter registration is more accurate than ever, according to Jocelyn Benson, the state’s top election official.
- The state is part of a national consortium where it compares records to determine residency and the status of voters on its rolls.
- Widespread claims of election fraud marred the 2020 election, even though clerks and repeated Republican-led investigations found no evidence of cheating.
LANSING—The state’s top election official praised employees for organizing the most accurate voter registration list Michigan has “ever” had coming into an election.
On May 3, Michiganders will have the opportunity to vote for local offices, school board positions, and four vacant seats in the Michigan House of Representatives. Election officials say they’re well poised to handle the influx of coming ballots and have a trustworthy, up-to-date count of Michigan’s 8 million registered voters.
“Michigan’s voter registration list is more accurate than ever before thanks to the work we’ve done in recent years to ensure accessible elections with secure list-maintenance protocols,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
Since 2019, the Michigan Bureau of Elections has scrubbed more than 500,000 people from its voter registration tabs in an effort to protect against fraud. Those names consist of more than 300,000 residents who died and almost 200,000 people who moved. As required by federal law, voters are first sent a notice of cancellation two election cycles before the state removes their name from the list.
The work to tighten up the state’s voter rolls began before all the hullabaloo over the 2020 presidential election—during which former President Donald Trump tried to cast doubt over the validity of his loss to Joe Biden in Michigan by more than 154,000 votes. Numerous audits and trials debunked claims of widespread fraud and a cover-up, but nonetheless, Michigan Republicans are already planting seeds that elections that have not been conducted will be “unfair.”
Three years ago, Michigan joined a national consortium with dozens of other states to match records on where voters are living to determine whether to cancel or update their record. Doing so has helped identify people who have changed residency or are unable to vote and made lists more accurate, Benson’s office said in a release.
Ahead of 2022 elections, which include a gubernatorial bout, Benson and her team have used absentee ballots sent out in 2020 to further clean up registration lists. Undeliverable mail signified that someone may have moved or put down the wrong address.
In the next four years, Benson’s office expects to clear another 400,000 names that are currently monitored as “inactive.”
“The statewide mailings, interstate data sharing, daily reconciliation with the driver file, and other activities we’re conducting constitute the most thorough and precise list maintenance initiative in Michigan history,” said Benson.
The work continues as Republicans push deceitful claims about election security that local clerks have repeatedly denied.
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a pair of bills that would have put up barriers to voting by purging residents from registration lists if their birthday was not on file—which is the case for only 600 voters, or .0008% of the state’s registered voters. People who hadn’t voted since 2000 would also be removed under the bill that Whitmer rejected.
Michigan voters signaled support for more accessible voting practices when they passed a 2018 initiative two-to-one to establish same-day registration and no-excuse absentee voting.
This year, a conservative-backed petition is circulating under the name of “Secure MI Vote” that would add more barriers back into the process.
“It’s shameful that legislative leaders are attacking Michigan’s democracy by spreading lies and misinformation about the state’s voter list in an attempt to undermine public faith in our elections, but we will continue to manage the list transparently and in accordance with the law,” Benson said.
Absentee ballots are now available for May 3 elections. You can register, find your polling place, or check your registration at Michigan.gov/VOTE.
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