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Who is voting absentee so far in Michigan? Older Democrats, records show

More than 60 percent of voters who have returned absentee ballots so far in Michigan are likely Democrats, data from a national nonpartisan data firm suggests. (Shutterstock)
  • Likely Democrats make up over 60 percent of the 1.2 million absentee voters so far in Michigan
  • A majority of absentee voters are 65 or older
  • The tide could swing dramatically Tuesday as Republicans are more likely to vote in-person

Over 1.2 million Michigan voters have already cast ballots and an estimated 61 percent of them are likely Democrats, according to data compiled by a national nonpartisan voter data provider.

Bridge Michigan reviewed data provided by L2, a Bothell, Wash., firm, which matched voter identifications of all returned ballots through Nov. 2 with voting histories in the last presidential primary.


According to L2’s analysis:

  • 61.4 percent of the absentee voters favored Democrats in the 2020 primary, compared to 33 percent who are likely Republicans.
  • Just over 60 percent of all absentee voters are 65 or older. That age group makes up just 25 percent of all registered voters.
  • Younger voters, those 18 to 29, comprise 5.4 percent of absentee voters but 17.7 percent of registered voters.
  • Women comprise nearly 56.5 percent of absentee voters, compared to 51.5 percent of all registered voters.

The data is a snapshot, and trends may not hold through the Tuesday election. Some 1.9 million voters have requested an absentee ballot, but not all have been returned. Voters have until 8 p.m. on election day to return their absentee ballot to their local clerk’s office.


In all, about 4 million votes are expected total in the election, and Republicans have typically been more likely to vote in person.


Comparisons and conclusions are tricky because this is only the second statewide election in Michigan in which anyone can vote absentee without a reason, after voters approved the option in 2018.

And it’s the first election in which all voters weren’t mailed absentee ballot applications.

While early returns are encouraging for Democrats, late absentee votes and in-person ones could swing wildly for Republicans.

In Macomb County in 2020, for instance, President Joe Biden won 56 percent of the 287,000 absentee votes, giving him a nearly 20,000-vote edge over former President Donald Trump.

But the 207,000 walk-in voters in the county overwhelmingly backed Trump, 68 percent to 30 percent. 

Trump ended up winning the county, and it wasn’t particularly close. He beat Biden 53 percent to 45 percent, a nearly 40,000-vote margin of the county’s 497,000 total votes.


Statewide, there currently are 31 counties where Democrats make up less than half of the electorate but more than half of the absentee ballots returned so far, according to the L2 data.

Each of those counties, however, voted for Trump in 2020, many by large margins.

Before Michigan voters approved no-excuse absentee voters, voters under 60 had to choose from a list of six reasons, like being out of town on election day or unable to vote without assistance. Those 60 and older did not have to give a reason

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