Whitmer, Benson urge Michigan residents to make a voting plan

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday assured Michigan voters their ballots would be secure and encouraged them to request an absentee ballot ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Whitmer's virtual press conference occurred shortly after the state Court of Appeals, in a split, decision affirmed a lower court's decision that Benson was within her authority when she mailed out absentee ballot applications to Michigan's 7.7 million qualified voters ahead of the November election. 

Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, holds a press conference at Pasteur Elementary School in Detroit to give an update on today's election, Tuesday,  August 4, 2020.

Robert Davis, the serial litigant who challenged Benson's authority to mail the applications, said Wednesday he would file an emergency appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Benson and Whitmer have encouraged voters to mail in or drop off absentee ballots instead of voting in person in order to decrease the risk of COVID spread. 

More than 2.2 million people have requested absentee ballots in Michigan, up from the record 1.6 million people who voted by mail in the Aug. 4 primary. Benson said Wednesday that she expected upwards of 5 million people to vote Nov. 3.

Whitmer warned people not to wait too long to send in their ballots by mail. 

"Go ahead and take it directly to your clerk’s office," Whitmer said. "... No matter who you’re voting for or how you choose to exercise your right to vote this fall, make your plan now and stick to it.”

Benson warned that election misinformation would likely increase over the next several weeks and encouraged voters to report information they suspected to be false to misinformation@Michigan.gov.

Benson also asked for more help from the federal government and the state Legislature, saying the state Senate's recent passage of a bill that would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots the day before the election was a step forward but not enough. 

"When our polls close on Election Day, many of our clerks and election workers will be working through the night," Benson said. 

The secretary has also advocated for legislation that would allow clerks to count ballots that were postmarked before Election Day, but received afterward. She has urged lawmakers to require clerks who receive an absentee ballot with signature concerns to contact the voter.