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2.85 million absentee ballots requested so far in Michigan, nearly 1 million returned

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

About 2.85 million people have requested absentee ballot applications ahead of the Nov. 3 election and nearly 1 million people have returned completed ballots, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office.

Clerks across the state have issued about 2.8 million ballots and received 977,000 back, Benson’s spokesman Jake Rollow said Tuesday.

The numbers are at least triple the amount from 22 days before the 2016 election, when 916,000 absentee ballots had been requested and 248,000 returned to clerks.

Benson’s office has recruited more than 30,000 election workers to help clerks throughout Michigan with the uptick in absentee ballots.

“They are certainly working very hard,” Rollow said of the state’s more than 1,500 clerks. “What’s been clear really through the year is that, with so many people voting absentee, clerks are really in a lot of ways operating two elections simultaneously.”

Benson’s office is working on guidance for clerks and the public regarding concerns that armed individuals will be present at polling locations and perhaps intimidate voters. That guidance should be available “soon,” Rollow said.

Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office also is working with law enforcement agencies across the state to address the potential threat, he said.  

“They’re really looking at all the laws surrounding elections, voter intimidation and then gun rights,” Rollow said.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com