Record-breaking turnout for May 5 election demonstrates Michigan voter commitment to democracy

Election NewsMAY 6, 2020

Turnout double that typical for May elections

Michigan saw record-breaking turnout for the approximately 50 elections in 33 counties and 200 municipalities across the state yesterday, with nearly 25 percent of eligible voters participating and 99 percent of those voters casting absent voter ballots.

“It was a very inspiring day,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “And it went even better than expected. Our local election officials deserve tremendous credit for their ability to administer a safe, successful election under unprecedented circumstances. The record breaking high turnout in yesterday’s local elections is a testament to their efforts, and underscores how deeply committed Michigan citizens are to weighing in on the critical issues facing their communities and our society, even during a pandemic. Voters know how important it is to maintain our democratic institutions in times of crisis, and the data from yesterday proves that.”

While average turnout for local May elections is around 12 percent, the previous turnout record was set at 23 percent in 2015 when a proposed increase to the gas tax was on the ballot statewide. Of the over 180,000 people who participated in the election, preliminary data shows only 1,775 cast their ballots in person, averaging to fewer than 1 per voting location per hour, with more populace locations seeing greater numbers of voters. In addition, clerks received all requested personal protective equipment from the Michigan Department of State, ensuring election workers were able to execute the election safely while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“We have the tools we need to carry out elections that are safe, accurate and secure, and yesterday we saw those tools in action,” said Secretary Benson. “Now we’re going to take the data and the lessons learned from this process and use it to determine the best and safest way to proceed in the August and November elections.”

All Michigan voters already have the right to vote from home and the ability to automatically receive absentee applications mailed to them. Those interested in joining the permanent absent voter application list can sign up at Michigan.gov/Vote by entering their name, birthday and zip code to find their registration, then clicking the green button to join the list.

“Voters can be certain of two things: elections will happen on time, and they will happen safely and securely,” said Secretary Benson. “My top goal is to protect voting rights and the public health, and no matter what August and November look like nationally, we will do both in Michigan.”

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