Thursday, December 2, 2021

Secretary of State expects safe election, misinformation and slow results

November 2, 2020
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a press conference on Nov. 2, 2020. Courtesy photo by Michigan Secretary of State's office.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a press conference on Nov. 2, 2020. Courtesy photo by Michigan Secretary of State's office. —

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a press conference Monday to discuss the state’s expectations and guidelines for the 2020 presidential election.

Benson touched on a variety of topics in relation to the Nov. 3 election, reassuring voters their votes will be counted while the polls would be safe, and that Michiganders will be able to vote without intimidation.

“We cannot allow scare tactics and lies to deter any citizen from exercising their right to vote,” Benson said.

After her order to ban open carry guns at local polling locations was struck down by a Michigan Court of Claims judge, she said that she will do everything in her power to stop voter intimidation. 

Close to 3 million Michiganders have already voted early via absentee ballot and more than 2 million anticipated to vote in-person on election day, Benson said. This would come close to breaking the record turnout of the 5.1 million votes in the 2008 presidential election when 66.2% of registered voters cast a ballot.

About 500,000 ballots that have been issued have not yet been received by clerks.

Benson said Michigan absentee ballots are counted in pairs of one Democrat and one Republican to ensure fairness during the counting process. While this process will require patience, Benson said that the state expects the process of counting ballots to take no more than 80 hours to count absentee ballots submitted before 8 p.m. on election night.

“The clerks have rightly instructed election workers to be diligent and meticulous, and to ensure every ballot is counted accurately,” Benson said.

According to Benson, they have 2,000 additional workers on standby to help in case the regular staff is not adequate.

Benson urged in-person voters to wear a mask as a way of protecting the health and safety of themselves and others. She also said that the state is ready to address potential unrest at polling locations.

“If there are things that occur that are disruptive we’ve got a plan and protocol in place to ensure they are addressed swiftly,” she said.

Benson also said that she fully expects both individual voters and the state as a whole to be targeted by misinformation, whether in the form of social media posts, doctored images, false reports of unrest at polling stations, or misinformation directly from one of the presidential candidates.

“Members of my administration and I will work to swiftly correct any misinformation we see and hear about, just as we have all year,” she said.

Michiganders can report false information at misinformation@michigan.gov.

As the nation prepares for the presidential election, Benson is optimistic.

“We’re ready to go,” she said. “I feel like we’re going to have a day full of frankly very inspiring moments as so many people vote.”

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