Michigan explains why election results differ from media and why Sharpies work on ballots

The Michigan Department of State dropped a fact check early Thursday morning, pointing Twitter followers to the state's election systems job in reporting results.

After one of the state's most memorable post-election days ever, in which accusations of voter fraud flooded social media while protesters crowded around an absentee ballot counting location in downtown Detroit, the dust had settled with media organizations projecting Joe Biden had won the presidential contest.

How TV stations and the Associated Press makes those projections is completely separate from how Michigan's Department of State publishes them, however. 

How does the Michigan Department of State report results?

The decentralized nature of elections in the U.S. means each state abides by its own rules when publishing voting results.

In Michigan, no voter data goes on the state website until every precinct from one county has counted and certified its results. Only then does it go to the State Department.

But that doesn't mean the precincts or counties themselves don't independently publish their results. In the tri-state area, those results get published in real-time on each county's website. Wayne County has one. Oakland County has one. Macomb County has one.

Why weren't Wayne County's results published until Thursday morning?

By late Wednesday, Biden had been projected to win the election in Michigan. But the secretary of state's website didn't reflect that due to Wayne County's results not getting finalized until late.

With so much of the Southeast Michigan county voting for Biden, it was enough to tip the scales against Trump.

Do election clerks count ballots that are received after polls close?

While there have been calls to accept ballots that arrive late on election day but were postmarked before, there is no Michigan law that allows those votes to be counted. 

If they arrive after 8 p.m., they will not count.

Can using a sharpie mess up your ballot?

Among the sentiments that were trending on Twitter were concerns that someone who filled out their election ballot using a sharpie wouldn't have their vote count.

The Department of state addressed this as well - the short answer is no. So is the long answer.