Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) on Sunday said Americans should prepare for election results to take days to be tabulated this year given the surge in mail-in ballot requests and early voting interest.
Benson, the state’s top election official, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that full election results for every race in Michigan ― including the presidential election ― will not be available on election night.
When asked if it could take as many as three weeks for election results to be processed, Benson said she doesn’t believe it will take that long.
“But we should be prepared for this to be closer to an election week, as opposed to an election day,” Benson said.
She said the delay will be caused in part by the state’s legislature so far refusing to make changes that would allow the votes to be processed in a more efficient manner. For instance, some states can begin tabulating mail-in ballots ahead of the election, but Michigan election officials can’t do so until Election Day.
“But that said, we’re increasing tabulators,” Benson told NBC. “We’re increasing capacity to more efficiently and securely count those ballots. But I’m also laser-focused on accuracy. And if it takes a few extra days to ensure we have a full and accurate counting of the results of every race, that’s what it’s going to take.”
Michigan saw a record turnout during its primary last month with roughly 2.5 million votes cast. An unprecedented two-thirds of voters used an absentee ballot, causing some race results to be delayed a day or so.
Though presidential election results are often declared on election night, many election officials and experts have said this likely will not be the case this year.
Joe Lenski, co-founder and executive vice president of Edison Research, a company used by many news outlets to declare election winners, said the tabulation will “take a much longer period of time” this November.
“We’re not going to be able to call every race on election night,” Lenski told Newsy. “We’re not even going to have votes for every race in some states on election night.”
The increased demand for absentee ballots, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, has Democratic strategists worried that President Donald Trump and other Republicans could declare themselves the winners of their races before the votes are even counted. Polls suggest that far more Democrats than Republicans are planning to vote by mail, reported The New York Times, prompting concerns that swing states could appear to go red on election night before early votes are fully counted.
On Sunday, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Benson whether she’s concerned people may use the delay in election results in Michigan, a swing state, to “declare a phony winner” on election night.
“Yes,” Benson responded. “But to me, that’s just going to be another example of the type of misinformation and disinformation that we’re seeing multiple ways from multiple platforms and voices in this election cycle. So we’re going to counter that misinformation with truth and accuracy.”
During a subsequent appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Benson pushed back against mail-in voter fraud claims peddled by Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr, including that foreign adversaries can simply fabricate ballots.
“This mythical idea that ballots can materialize out of anywhere or that in any way ballots will be counted if they weren’t verified as coming from an actual voter is not true,” Benson said. “The facts and the truth are on our side here.”
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