Thousands of absentee ballots cast in Lansing primary election

August 2020 Primary

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– More than a million ballots were cast from home here in Michigan in the weeks leading up to this election, marking a huge surge in the number of mailed-in ballots for this primary.

There aren’t as many volunteers working this year to count those ballots due to social distancing guidelines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope says they’re expecting the counting of absentee ballots to take hours and for the final results to come early in the morning.

The city issued more than 22,000 ballots and got more than 18,000 back. They did order a second high-speed scanner to help count ballots faster, but there was a supply issue and they couldn’t get it in time for the August primary.

Even with the technology and volunteers they do have working more than 12 hours on Tuesday, there’s still enough work to keep them busy through the night. Swope says the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant part in that surge and he’s expecting that number to grow even more in November.

“A lot of voters are just choosing not to go out as much as possible, so we have seen a huge uptick in the number of people voting by absentee ballot, voting from home,” he says. “And I think for a lot of folks, that’s a great, safe way for them to vote. So I encourage them to continue that.”

Swope says he wants to get three more of those high speed machines by November’s general election to help count ballots in that election. Stay with 6 News on air, online and with our 6 News app for the final confirmed results in our local races

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