At her press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talked heavily about the upcoming election and voter intimidation.
"Every one of us needs to make a plan," Gov. Whitmer said. "Schedule time in your day to fill out your ballot and to take it in. Make sure your friends and your family and your neighbors do the same. Voters will be able to cast their ballot with confidence and know that your voice matters and will be heard. Election results will take more time than usual due to the dramatic increase in absentee voting."
Early voting is still available in Michigan, and residents can turn in ballots to their local city clerk offices up until 8 p.m. on election day. The date to register to vote online has passed, however voter registration is still available in-person at a city clerk's office.
"This year Michigan has emerged as a leader in facilitating historic elections during a pandemic," Gov. Whitmer said. "But ensuring that all Michiganders know how to vote in the November election takes a Herculean undertaking that requires leaders at all levels of government, and community leaders and Michiganders across our state to help us spread the word ... just like fighting this pandemic, democracy too, is a team sport. And we all have to get in the game. No matter who you plan on voting for, or how you choose to exercise your right to vote this fall, make a plan and stick to it."
The press conference also included speeches from the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Benson discussed the importance of reporting voter intimidation, and how they are trying their best to make sure the votes are fair.
"There is an especially robust set of security protocols designed to ensure our elections are among the most secure in the country, and highly decentralized," Benson said. "This is why those who may seek to do harm by attacking voters focus on voters as opposed to our system. They believe they can damage our society by falsely influencing your understanding of the truth, but they're wrong. The reality is what we're seeing in this election is record breaking turnout."
Absentee voting in this election has been record breaking, in Michigan more absentee ballots have been returned than were issued two weeks before the 2016 general election. 2,973,501 absentee ballots have been issued to Michigan voters for the 2020 election.
Lt. Gov. Gilchrist also highlighted this recorded breaking turnout, saying that he himself has led groups of hundreds of black men to marshal the polls to vote in cities like Detroit and Saginaw.
"Every person has the power to choose how we move forward together," Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said. "So please make a plan to have your voice heard at the ballot box before the polls close on November 3. If you do plan to go to the polls on Election Day November 3, remember that voter intimidation of any kind is illegal. No one has the right to stand between you and casting your ballot. Our entire administration is dedicated to protecting all voters as we cast our ballots, voter intimidation will not be allowed in Michigan."
Michigan law states that, "A person shall not threaten or intimidate a challenger while performing an activity allowed under subsection (1). A challenger shall not threaten or intimidate an elector while the elector is entering the polling place, applying to vote, entering the voting compartment, voting, or leaving the polling place."
Attorney General Nessel also touched on this subject of voter intimidation, and the importance of reporting it.
"Our offices plan for months to make sure that your voting experience is both safe and easy," Attorney General Nessel said. "And there's a lot of different claims that are out there about Election Day about your right to vote. And it's important to know if you see anyone spreading inaccurate information about the election, please report it to email@example.com. So that we can help."
Whitmer also talked about how unprecedented the numbers are so far this election, and that they will be continuing to do everything they can for a safe and secure voting experience.
"I am so grateful that we have got a nationally respected expert in elections like Jocelyn Benson overseen our elections," Gov. Whitmer said. "I'm incredibly grateful that we've got an attorney general who has shown how tough and smart she is overseen a lot of the work to ensure that we've got a secure election, and I am happy to have been partnering with them as we prepare for this unprecedented turnout. We want to keep people safe. We want to ensure that we don't see the election as a super spreader event."
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