The victor of the 2020 presidential election won’t be known on Election Night. Postal ballots (both “mail-in” and “absentee”) and in-person votes, early voting mean that many states will have a backlog of uncounted ballots on Election Day, placing additional strain on state election systems that are already under unprecedented stress.
Swing states have always been the king-makers in presidential elections—”president-makers,” I should say. But, this time around, greater skepticism of the election’s integrity puts more pressure on the swing states’ election processes.
For an explanation about the difference between mail-in and absentee ballots, check out this piece here by Ben Wilson: The Difference Between Absentee and Mail-In Ballots.
The state, which President Donald Trump won in 2016 with a microscopic 0.3% margin, currently leans toward his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight. Michigan is a must-win state for President Trump if he is to get a second term, so a lot’s riding on the Wolverine State.
Back in 2018, Michigan passed a law which allowed its voters to request an absentee ballot for any reason, expanding the amount of voters who qualify for ballots of this sort.
Under another state law, ballots received by clerks after 8 pm on Election Day will not be counted. While the Supreme Court recently ruled that ballots received up through November 6 in Pennsylvania are allowed to be counted, a Michigan appeals court on Friday upheld the state’s current law. As of right now, it is uncertain if this ruling will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.
In September, however, Michigan lawmakers passed a law that permits election clerks to open and sort—but not count—ballots on November 2 for 10 hours before the start of Election Day at midnight. This will save election officials some time on November 3 when they then have to also count all the in-person ballots from that day.
Of the more-than-three million absentee ballots requested this election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the state’s chief election official, said on Tuesday that 1.5 million have already been submitted, The Detroit Free Press reported.
Even though Michiganders are still able to request absentee ballots, Benson has urged those who have still not requested one to request one in-person from their clerk’s office instead as well as to deliver their ballot in person to the clerk or a designated dropbox. This is to take some of the burden off of the U.S. Postal Service, which has been facing its own set of problems nationwide.
As for when she predicts the results will be released, Benson, according to Politico, said earlier this month: “We still expect that will be the Friday of that week … that we can expect every ballot will be tabulated. Now it may be sooner, but we want to manage those expectations.”
Given the information presented, Michigan’s full election results most likely won’t be known on Election Night. Most of its results should be published within the week after Election Day, probably November 6 (Friday) at the earliest, as Sec. Benson approximated.
Nonetheless, in the year 2020, anything could go haywire—nothing is certain.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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