Michigan voters request record-number of absentee ballots eight weeks out from election

If Michigan residents thought remote voting was big during the August primary, just wait for the November election.

With eight weeks left to go in the 2020 election season, citizens have already requested more absentee ballots for the general election than they did for the primary race - which set a record for remote voting.

So far, 2.1 million requests for an absentee ballot have been made, including 1.7 million since Aug. 5.

The record-breaking number of requests underscores how voters view the measures they should take to cast their ballot amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Michigan’s citizens enthusiastically want to vote, and are taking advantage of the numerous safe, secure and reliable options they have to do so this year,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a news release. 

Benson and other state officials have pushed hard for increasing access to alternative forms of voting. Prior to the local election in May and the primary election in August, the Department of State mailed absentee ballot applications to every registered voter.

RELATED: After record-breaking Michigan primary, eyes turn toward November election

The push hasn't come without criticism, however, including from President Donald Trump. The president has targeted Benson in tweets when he criticized the secretary of state's decision to mail ballot applications.

Here is a breakdown of the tri-county absentee ballot request data reviewed by FOX 2:

  • Wayne County - 318,505
  • Oakland County - 367,022
  • Macomb County - 193,192

It's not just Michigan voters choosing to remotely vote. A majority of Americans do as well. In a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll reported on Thursday, "six in 10 registered voters nationwide say they want to cast their ballots before Election Day..."

However, as noted in Michigan and specifically in Detroit precincts following the August primary, a surge in absentee votes will likely cause a delay in results and fears over inaccurate counts.

After more than 70% of precincts reported inaccurate vote counts for absentee ballots in Detroit, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers requested that the Secretary of State investigate issues with tabulations. In a call with reporters after the primary, Benson also said 10,000 absentee votes across the state had been rejected due a number of reasons. 

RELATED: Wayne Co. Board of Canvassers asking SOS to investigate miscounted absentee ballots in Aug. primary

Among them is that ballots postmarked before election day but received after 8 p.m. cannot be counted. This issue of not having ballots make it to their respective precincts on time has grown in concern among many following reported delays in the U.S. Postal Service.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Levering) told the Associated Press that a bill that would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots prior to Election Day wasn't dead. The bipartisan legislation has been on hold since May.