Election workers face counting backlog as Michiganders return 1.6 million absentee ballots

Final primary election results expected Wednesday
Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 13:08:57-04

Election workers are still tabulating final primary results — some races not expected to be called until mid-day Wednesday.

Two million Michiganders requested absentee ballots in the mail, with around 1.6 million of those ballots returned.

In Detroit, where most of the ballots have been counted, 100,000 voters wanted to vote via mail and around 75,000 returned their ballots.

Part of the slowdown, according to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, is that mail-in ballots, even if delivered days or weeks ago, could not be counted until Tuesday.

So election workers faced a pretty hefty backlog going into this.

Benson said Tuesday night she feels there’s a simple logistical fix here — if the legislature allowed election workers to begin counting mail-in ballots prior to election day.

Another thing the Secretary of State’s Office had to respond to Tuesday was a number of unexpected call outs from election workers, resulting in the need to tap into reserve volunteers.

“Some of the poll workers didn’t show up. And I’m sure it’s because they maybe had second thoughts and decided maybe it’s safer if I stay home," said Janice Winfrey, Detroit City Clerk. "But the poll workers that did show up, they just took the challenge on.”

“We’re still going to look at exactly what happened there, but we were able to quickly respond to any call of a need and at the end of the day we provided 50 individuals in the city of Detroit and 80 total statewide to fill the gaps that were unexpectedly created throughout the day," said Benson.

Benson is also saying Tuesday night that this served as a lesson for November: that there’s a need for more election volunteers.

But, the state did have 200 reserves available, so they didn’t need to tap into everyone on Primary Day.