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Record-breaking turnout for Primary Election Day in Michigan

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says just over 2.5 million people voted in this August primary, with 1.6 million voters casting their ballot through the mail, making this the highest number of absentee ballots ever cast in Michigan’s history.
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - In a press conference on Thursday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson provides new insight into how the primary election process went across the state, and how officials will use this information ahead of election day in November.

“What August shows is that we can hold safe, accessible and secure elections in the midst of a pandemic,” she explained.

Benson says just over 2.5 million people voted in this August primary, with 1.6 million voters casting their ballot through the mail, making this the highest number of absentee ballots ever cast in Michigan’s history.

The previous record of 1.3 million happened in the 2016 presidential election.

“That is the largest turnout we have ever had in an August primary. It surpasses the previous record of 2.2 million that was set in the August 2018 primary,” said Benson.

In Marquette County, the Clerk’s Office said they too saw an increase in voter turnout for the area.

“The primary, if we usually hit into the percentage range of the 20′s we’re good. We hit into the percentage range of the 30′s so I felt good about that,” said Marquette County Clerk, Linda Talsma.

The County Clerk’s Office didn’t see a high turnout at the polls, which they expected, but they did receive thousands of absentee ballots from voters and didn’t experience any challenges.

“We had absentee voter counting boards set up, and we had those set up in the higher precincts with the higher vote counts, so those were set up and made the process go much easier and faster,” said Talsma.

Despite an increase in voter participation come November, the County Clerk’s Office says they won’t make any changes because of the ease they experienced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, across the state, Benson says changes need to be made in both federal and state infrastructures to support the state's anticipated 3 million mailed-in ballots to come on Election Day.

These changes will hopefully be seen within the United States Postal Service, clerks’ offices throughout the state and through the submission of ballots.

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