More than 10,500 primary election ballots were tossed out in Michigan, most for arriving late

Aug 17, 2020 at 10:17 am
click to enlarge More than 10,500 primary election ballots were tossed out in Michigan, most for arriving late

More than 10,500 voters were disenfranchised in the primary election in Michigan, most of them because their absentee ballot arrived late.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Friday that she fears tens of thousands of votes may be trashed in the general election unless the Michigan Legislature approves two election-reform bills that have languished in the GOP-led state House.

“The data demonstrates that thousands of people who cast otherwise valid votes were not able to participate in last week’s election solely because the legislature failed to act ahead of the primary,” Benson said in a news release. “With turnout and absentee ballot numbers expected to double or even triple in November, we could be looking at tens of thousands of Michigan citizens disenfranchised if the legislature again fails to act.”

More than 6,400 votes weren’t counted in the August primary because the ballots did not arrive by the day of the election. One House bill would allow mailed ballots to count if they are postmarked by Election Day and arrive up to two days later.

Another 787 votes were trashed because signatures on the absentee ballots didn’t appear to match those on file. Another House bill would require clerks to notify voters if their signatures appear mismatched. A Motor City Muckraker investigation revealed that as many as tens of thousands of Michigan votes were tossed out in 2017 and 2018 because of mismatched signatures.

Signatures often change because of disabilities, injuries, sloppy handwriting or a lack of consistency. Signatures can also appear different based on whether voters are sitting or standing or what type of writing instrument they use.

In this year’s primary election, another 1,438 ballots were trashed because they lacked signatures. More than 400 were in Detroit.

Election officials across the country are worried that an unprecedented number of absentee ballots won’t reach clerks offices in time because of President Donald Trump’s cuts to the Postal Service. In letters to 46 states, the U.S. Postal Service warned that voters could be disenfranchised because of delays in the mail. On Thursday, Vice reported that the Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines, some of which are used to sort ballots.

Mail delivery has slowed significantly since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy assumed the position in June. Although he has a background in shipping and logistics, DeJoy is a Republican Party and Trump campaign megadonor.

DeJoy claims that he is fighting waste and inefficiencies in the U.S. Postal Service, but on Sunday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back from recess early to vote on legislation to protect the U.S. Postal Service. DeJoy's critics are asking why these cuts to U.S.P.S. need to be made now, when there is a pandemic going on that can prevent people from going to the polls.

Trump has made repeated, unfounded claims that mail-in voting will cause widespread fraud and even threatened to withhold funding from Michigan over absentee ballots.

He narrowly beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by about 10,000 votes in 2016.

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