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Secretary Benson encourages voters to return absentee ballots as soon as possible

High early turnout demonstrates vote-by-mail success

Those who are eligible and intend to vote in the May 5 election are strongly encouraged to cast their absentee ballots by mail as soon as possible, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said today. In order for a ballot to be counted it must be received by the local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Approximately 740,000 voters were mailed applications, 213,011 submitted them, and already 86,355 have cast ballots — nearly 12 percent a week from the election. With turnout for May elections averaging at roughly 13 percent in recent years, these numbers indicate a significant increase in participation.

“The data confirms what we already knew; when people are given the option to vote from the comfort of their home, they overwhelmingly choose to do so,” said Secretary Benson. “This level of turnout proves how committed Michigan voters are to participating in our democracy, and how even during a health crisis Michigan’s elections are successful.”

Earlier this month, absentee ballot applications and postage-paid return envelopes were mailed to every voter in the jurisdictions still holding May 5 elections — mainly those with expiring millages or other funding concerns that could not wait until August.

“Even though we’ve already seen excellent turnout, everyone who is able to do so should still cast their ballot by mail as soon as possible,” said Secretary Benson. “Voting by mail is a safe, secure and easy way to practice social distancing and engage in the democratic process at the same time.”

For those unable to mail in their ballots in time, local clerk offices will be open on Election Day to serve as ballot drop locations. Same-day registration will also still be available, and those who need to request and then cast their absentee ballot in the office may do so. Personal protection equipment (PPE) and detailed protocols on the social distancing measures were sent to clerks with elections, in addition to the Department of State putting out a recruitment call for election workers to fill in for the seniors who often serve but are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“We had more than 1,600 people across the state volunteer to serve as election workers,” said Secretary Benson. “That overwhelming response reinforced how committed the people of our state are to maintaining our democratic institutions, even in times of crisis.”

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