LANSING, Michigan — More than two million Michiganders have already requested absentee ballots for the November election. With so many people using this process for the first time, there are some commonly asked questions.
Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson answered some of the questions.
Q: How long will it take to count the votes?
A: Friday after Election Day. About twice as many people are expected to vote by mail in November as did during the primary. After the primary, we had the full count by Wednesday. So, double the vote and double the time comes out to Friday.
Q: How do you track who's asking for ballots and who's voting by mail?
A: In Michigan, we have a statewide voter file that's updated in real-time with every voter interaction. Every time you ask for a ballot, receive a ballot, or when your ballot is counted, it updates. You can also track your own ballot through Ballot Scout. You can verify that you've requested a ballot, that one has been sent out and when they receive it after you send it in.
Q: Can you change your mind and vote in-person after voting by mail?
A: Yes. You have to show in person to your clerk's office no later than 4 p.m. on Monday before Election Day. We will invalidate your previous ballot, and that new vote will be the one that counts.
Q: How do you protect against fraud with mail-in voting?
A: Signatures. Before you can even request a ballot be sent to you, you have to sign an application. That signature is then matched with the signature we have on file. That ballot is not even prepared to be counted until we validate the signature on the envelope outside that ballot. If there's a ballot returned with not signature, we can't count it. If there's a ballot returned with a signature that doesn't match the one we have on record, we can't count it. That protection is a way of confirming the identity of the voter, and ensure we've a system--like other states--of vote by mail that is protected against fraud.
The general election is on Nov. 3. The last day to request an absentee ballot in Michigan is Friday, Oct. 30.
Benson will be holding a voting rights town hall on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. It can be viewed here.
Watch the full interview with Benson here:
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