Michigan secretary of state promises fair election Tuesday

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Photo of Angela Mulka
FILE - Election inspectors count ballots into the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the central counting board in Detroit.

FILE - Election inspectors count ballots into the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the central counting board in Detroit.

Photo provided/David Goldman/AP

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said her office will not tolerate any effort to interfere with the certification of Tuesday's primary election to ensure the "will of the people will rule the day."

"Voters can cast their ballot tomorrow confident they will be safe and their vote will be counted," Benson said in a statement on Monday. "We will not tolerate any voter suppression or election interference attempts in Michigan."

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Voters can submit their absentee ballot to their clerk's office or drop box by 8 p.m. People who have not yet registered may do so and vote at their clerk’s office until 8 p.m. 

Benson's administration has provided materials to clerks and law enforcement to ensure that there is no confusion about election law and enforcement, according to a press release issued by her office on Monday. For instance, her administration created a code of conduct that clerks can have election inspectors sign before working.

Benson said in the release that if anyone witnesses what they believe to be illegal activity, they should report it immediately to their local election clerk, law enforcement or the voter protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

"Michigan's elections are among the most secure and accurate in the nation, and any attempts by canvassers to illegally deny certification will be futile, as we are confident courts would swiftly enforce the law," Benson said. 

Voters can find the locations of their polling place, clerk's office and drop boxes at Michigan.gov/vote. At the same site, they can also track the status of a submitted absentee ballot. If it has not yet been received, the voter should contact their clerk immediately, according to Benson in the release. 

Michigan law regarding primary ballots requires voters to cast votes for only one party's candidates. Votes for candidates in multiple parties on the same ballot will not be counted.

Benson also warned that after the polls close Wednesday and in November, attempts could still be made to mislead voters.

"Bad actors could wrongly claim that the time it takes to finish counting absentee ballots is evidence of malfeasance, rather than acknowledging the truth: that counting often continues long after polls close because the Michigan Legislature has not provided election clerks time before Election Day to pre-process absentee ballots," her office stated in the release. "Many other states provide multiple days or weeks for preprocessing."
 
"Additional confusion can occur if media report results after polls close and note that they have data from nearly all precincts, but voters don't realize that half those precincts' ballots may have been cast absentee and therefore have not been included in the results," her office continued in the release. "Then, as absentee ballot counting boards do finish counting, it can appear as if the total vote counts increased by large numbers long after polls closed and media reported results from most if not all precincts."
 
Benson urged voters to turn to the websites of their local and county election clerks, and the Michigan Department of State's website and social media to avoid misinformation.

She warned voters to be wary of false claims for refusal to certify, including the minor clerical errors that cause some precincts to be out of balance every election, and conspiracy theories about voting machines, drop boxes and absentee ballots.

Absentee ballot request data shows that about 47% of ballots have already been returned, a 2% increase from the same period ahead of the Aug. 2020 primary, the last statewide primary to occur since the right to vote absentee was extended to all Michigan voters. As of July 25, 2022, one week before election day, 589,813 ballots had been returned.