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1.1M absentee ballots so far in Michigan. Overall turnout looks lower than ‘18

vote by mail
  • More than 1.1 million Michigan voters have already cast ballots for the upcoming election, equal to a quarter of all who will vote.
  • A week before the 2018 election — before there was no-reason absentee balloting —  703,000 had returned ballots. 
  • Statewide, absentee ballots are up 60 percent increase from 2018

More than 1.1 million Michigan voters have already cast ballots for the upcoming election, and state election officials estimate as many as 2 million will vote absentee by Nov. 8.

As of Tuesday, 1,126,246 absentee ballots had been returned, said Jake Rollow, director of external affairs for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.



A week before the 2018 election, 703,000 had returned ballots. But that was the election in which voters agreed to change the rules, so anyone could vote absentee without a reason.

Statewide, absentee ballots are up 60 percent from this time in 2018, but pacing far behind 2020 levels. A week before the 2020 election, 2.1 million ballots had been returned. But in that election, every voter had received an absentee ballot application.

Likewise, Rollow on Tuesday revised turnout estimates downward, saying there could be closer to 2 million absentee votes total as opposed to 2.25.

Overall turnout appears closer to 4 million, rather than 4.5 million projected earlier. That would be about 50 percent turnout.

In 2018, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was elected, 4.3 million people voted. That was the highest turnout ever for a Michigan gubernatorial election.


The secretary of state now recommends that people who still have an absentee ballot return it in person to their local clerk’s office or to a designated ballot drop off box. Rollow said they do not recommend putting ballots in the mail because of potential delivery delays. The local clerk must have the ballot by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.

If those who have received an absentee ballot want to vote in person instead, Rollow said they should bring their ballot to the polls. 

If they do not have it, they’ll still be able to vote, but the local clerk will have to confirm that the ballot was not submitted, Rollow said.

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