Secretary of State Benson: ‘Much clearer picture’ of Michigan results will be available by end of day

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 10:16am

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a forum in 2019.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a forum in 2019. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

A “much clearer picture” of Michigan election results should be available by the end of the day, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said at a Wednesday morning press conference.

Benson said more than 100,000 ballots — the vast majority of them absentee ballots — still need to be counted as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. According to Benson, there are still uncounted ballots in Detroit and a “sizable number” of uncounted ballots in Grand Rapids. More accurate results should come from Detroit in a few hours and from Grand Rapids “later today,” she said. 

Benson said Flint and Kalamazoo are in the final stages of tabulating votes, and reflective results from those jurisdictions should be published “very soon.”

“We want to just respect the process, and make sure that they’re able to meticulously dot every I, cross every T, get it right and get it accurate prior to anything being published,” Benson said. 

Benson said Detroit clerks expect to tabulate about 170,000 to 180,000 ballots. She emphasized that ballots had to be in by 8 p.m. Tuesday, and she said this deadline was strictly enforced. 

According to Benson, in-person ballots and absentee ballots from smaller jurisdictions were reported yesterday after the polls closed. Last night, President Donald Trump led in Michigan, but former Vice President Joe Biden is now ahead in Michigan as the state continues to count absentee ballots. Democrats expect to have an edge in absentee ballots after Trump sought to undermine the integrity of mail-in voting, supporting baseless theories about election fraud. 

State and local officials have repeatedly cautioned voters against expecting final results immediately after polls close on Election Day because completing the count could take a few days. Benson said two-thirds of all Michigan voters — more than 3 million — voted absentee.

Election workers could not start opening and counting absentee ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day. This, combined with the record number of absentee ballots, means voters will have to wait for final tallies.

Benson repeatedly said she stands by the ballot-counting process in Michigan and said she is confident it would hold in court. 

“We’re focused on getting this right in a way that can withstand any court challenges,” Benson said. “... A lot of times court challenges or allegations are thrown around to further political agendas as opposed to actual legal claims.”

Trump falsely declared victory in remarks early Wednesday, and he has sought to sow doubt about Biden’s growing lead in Michigan and other battleground states on Twitter throughout the morning.

Benson cautioned everyone against repeating misinformation. 

“Notably, the trusted sources of information about the count here in Michigan are our election officials and the county websites and our website that’s reporting out the data,” Benson said. “That’s what we encourage everyone to look at for results, and again, we’ve been very transparent about the whole process.”

Robocalls in Flint yesterday sought to confuse voters and prevent them from going to the polls. Benson said these attempts at misinformation did not work, as she said there was record-breaking turnout in communities all across the state, particularly in Flint and Grand Rapids. 

On Tuesday, CNN reported that Benson said she thought the state’s votes will be tallied earlier than previously expected. However, a state government spokesperson pushed back on that account, saying it was a misrepresentation of the secretary of state’s remarks.

In a tweet Tuesday night, Kelly Rossman-McKinney wrote that the outlet “was a little too excited about the story.” She noted that Benson “told the reporter there might be SOME counts completed. Definitely not ALL.”

Benson also took to social media to remind voters not to expect results so soon.

“No matter how long it takes, Michigan citizens can be certain that their ballots will be counted,” Benson wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

Managing News Editor Leah Graham and Daily News Editor Claire Hao can be reached at leahgra@umich.edu and cmhao@umich.edu


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