Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Short lines, few problems, 1M+ absentee votes on Election Day in Michigan

voting in person
Voters cast ballots in Flint on Tuesday. About 1.1 million people cast absentee ballots in the Aug. 2 primary less than two hours before the polls closed. (Votebeat photo by Sue Dorfman)
  • 1.1 million absentee ballots were cast in Michigan’s 2020 primary election
  • Results from the gubernatorial race will be finalized on Aug. 3
  • There were very few issues on Election Day

The results are in: Michigan voters like to vote from home, as a half to two-thirds of ballots cast Tuesday are expected to be absentee, state officials said.

About 1.1 million people cast their votes using absentee ballots in Tuesday’s primary election as of 6:30 p.m., about 85 percent of the 1.3 million people who requested the ballots.

Sponsor

About 1.8 million people voted absentee in the 2020 presidential primary during the height of the pandemic while 602,411 did so in 2018, months before Michigan voters approved no-reason absentee voting.

Related: What to watch in Michigan primary: Trump factor, poll challengers, late results

“Voters have really embraced the option to vote absentee,” said Jake Rollow, a Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson.

Throughout Tuesday, voters encountered few lines — and few problems — in the first major election since the chaotic 2020 presidential contest, which attracted swarms of Republican protestors to Detroit’s absentee ballot counting boards and false allegations of voter fraud that still plague elections.

In mid-afternoon in Detroit, about 10 Republican challengers and 50 observers watched the process at Huntington Place, formerly TCF Center, where hundreds of city election workers were stationed.

Most kept their distance and didn’t interfere with the process.

Overall, Detroit expects to count about 42,000 absentee ballots, but it was a “light day” for the city’s 1,200 ballot counters, said Daniel Baxter, election administrator for the City of Detroit.

There were a few issues at other local polling places, including in Lapeer County when timing marks on some ballots were incorrectly corrected. The issue was quickly fixed, officials said. 

Later on in the day, election officials closed a polling place in the city of Linden in Genesee County so that police could do a security search on a suspicious backpack someone left behind. Voters were directed to Linden City Hall. 

Two townships in Michigan also had some issues.

Burr Oak township in St. Joseph County sent out roughly 50 to 100 absentee ballots without sending the application first. Election workers realized the issue when the ballots were returned. 

Sponsor

The state asked the St. Joseph County clerk to take over the election administration, but it does not know exactly how many ballots were sent out, when exactly it happened or whether those ballots were counted or not. 

In Inkster Township in Wayne County, all eight polling places opened without poll books, which are used to check the eligibility of voters before they can cast their ballots.

After the state got wind of the problem, the polling places were given poll books to check voter registration. 

According to the Secretary of State, state election workers had no idea how long this went on but that poll workers were in touch with the city clerk and did not let voters vote without any verification. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told reporters Tuesday night that everyone  who arrived at the polling places before the poll books were made available was verified as an eligible voter. 

“We’ve been able to confirm that despite the challenges this morning in Inkster that only eligible voters had cast their ballots,” Benson said. 

We're not just a news organization, we're also your neighbors

We’ve been there for you with daily Michigan COVID-19 news; reporting on the emergence of the virus, daily numbers with our tracker and dashboard, exploding unemployment, and we finally were able to report on mass vaccine distribution. We report because the news impacts all of us. Will you please support our nonprofit newsroom?

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now