The chief election official in the state cautions that the results won't be revealed until Nov. 3.
Election experts warn that the 2020 election results may not be known until later than usual because of the time it takes to process and counts absentee ballots, so Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a measure giving local clerks a limited window to handle mail ballots before Election Day.
The measure, which was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by the Democratic governor, permits election officials in areas with at least 25,000 residents to begin processing postal ballots on Nov. 2, the day before Election Day, without actually counting them. Before this election, postal ballots had to be processed by Michigan election authorities after Election Day, but this year, mail ballots are anticipated to make up a considerably larger portion of the vote.
Officials in the state caution that it may still be a few days before it is known who will win the election, including the presidential contest in the crucial battleground state between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson stated, "This does not impact our statewide prediction as to when results will be announced this autumn." "We continue to anticipate that the tabulation of all votes will take place on that week's Friday. Even if it might happen sooner now, we want to control expectations.
Benson had argued for more time to be given for the processing of ballots, but the legislature rejected his proposal. Although it is a step in the right direction, it is not sufficient.
Additionally, the law requires clerks to inform voters of any ballot rejections within 48 hours.
Election authorities caution that it is possible, if not likely, that it won't be evident who has won the White House until November 3rd due to the enormous amount of mail ballots projected to be cast this year and state processing timeframes.
Three crucial Great Lakes battleground states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — did not permit election administrators to start processing mail ballots until Election Day, according to a POLITICO examination of ballot processing timeframes in 13 battleground states last month.
Similar attempts to extend processing times in Pennsylvania appear to have hit a wall, and any modifications to Wisconsin's voting system seem doomed to failure.
Paul Pate, a Republican and the secretary of state of Iowa, suggested a plan to allow clerks to start processing ballots on the Saturday before Election Day rather than the day before in late September. The idea was accepted by the state legislative council.
When the law originally emerged from the state Senate in September, Republican Rochester Hills, Michigan, clerk Tina Barton stated, "That Monday is more than I had when we started." Barton agreed that she wishes election officials had more time to process ballots, saying, "I'm going to celebrate it as a success, and if that's what they're going to allow us to do... I'm going to take what I can get because we need something."
A record 2.7 million Michigan voters requested a mail-in ballot, according to Benson on Monday, and about 380,000 votes have already been returned.
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