Record absentee voting could shorten presidential campaign season this fall

The pandemic had a big impact on the August 2020 primary election here in Michigan - but it could also be changing the game for all elections moving forward.

We don't have exact numbers yet, but roughly 55 to 60% of all those who voted in this primary voted absentee, according to the Secretary of State. They say that number is a record - and that it could get even higher come November.

In the tri-county area, 680,000 people voted absentee for this primary - which is a record and a trend that pollster Ed Sarpolus believes will continue in November.  

"By mid-September we want to lock in all the absentee votes that we can with mailings, contacting by phone and the whole thing," he says. 

"You may have a shortened campaign season because October 1 could end your campaign," he adds hypothetically because many could already return their ballots in the mail by then. 

Absentee ballots must be sent out 40 days before the election. So that means this year that date is September 19. So which political party does that help?

"If I know the metro Detroit area, they'll drive you in a bus to the clerk's office to vote in person. So I would say the absentee vote could benefit Joe Biden very much so. And the same thing in Macomb County, because Democrats drive people to the polls either by bus to get them to vote or absentee, it could be a benefit. Because remember a lot of Republicans are in the rural areas," Sarpolus says.

Three of the four presidential and vice-presidential debates aren't until October, meaning if Sarpolis is correct that many will have already voted by then via absentee. Therefore, the debates may not have as much of an impact on the election as usual.