Benson assures voters that Michigan polls are safe, and the state is election-ready


A mural on a voting location in New Center in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • A mural on a voting location in New Center in Detroit.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said communities are prepared for Election Day and that resident should feel confident that the polls are "safe and clean."

Polling places will be equipped with masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and protocols for hygiene and social distancing, Benson said.

“We have already held two successful elections since the COVID-19 pandemic came to Michigan, and voters can go to the polls tomorrow confident that protecting their health and safety is our highest priority,” Benson said in a statement. “All election workers are required to wear masks, all voters are strongly encouraged to do so, and my administration has provided masks, gloves, sanitizer and more to jurisdictions statewide.”

Benson said the state is prepared to handle any voter intimidation.

“The bottom line is that voter intimidation is illegal,” Benson said. “As the Court of Appeals confirmed, anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm is committing a felony, and this is enforceable by Michigan State Police and local law enforcement. As Michigan’s Chief Elections Officer I have a duty to protect every voter and their right to cast their vote free from intimidation and harassment. The Attorney General and I are working with state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure the law is followed statewide.”

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights established an election protection hotline (1-800-OUR-VOTE) to report voter intimidation. Voters may also file a complaint online.

“You have the right to safely and securely exercise your right to vote,” James E. White, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said in a statement. “If someone attempts to intimidate you or interfere with that right, seek help immediately to ensure you’re able to vote. But it is important to know that those actions may also constitute a violation of your civil rights.”

A record-shattering 2.9 million Michigan residents have voted so far, or about 60% of the expected total turnout. That means polling places won’t be as crowded.

Election officials are expecting the biggest turnout ever for a presidential election in Michigan. The current record is 5.1 million votes in the 2008 presidential election, when 66.2% of registered voters cast a ballot.

About 500,000 ballots that have been issued have not yet been received by clerks.

In Detroit, a stronghold for Democrats, the turnout so far is lower than expected. Nearly 132,000 Detroiters have cast an absentee ballot as of this weekend, or about a third of registered voters. Detroit officials are expecting a 50% voter turnout.

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