Record number of absentee ballots requested in key swing states

Record number of absentee ballots requested in key swing states

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Election officials in Ohio and Michigan said they're flooded with requests.

September 11, 2020, 9:07 AM

• 5 min read

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State election officials in Michigan and Ohio -- two major swing states -- said they've already received a record-breaking number of requests for absentee ballots -- eight weeks before Election Day.

More than 2 million requests have been received in Michigan, according to Jake Rollow, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State.

"That is more than has ever been requested in any Michigan election," Rollow said, "not just at the eight-week mark, but the final number in any election."

All registered voters in Michigan received an application to request a ballot, an initiative Rollow said contributed to the massive increase.

President Donald Trump, who has amplified baseless theories about the dangers of absentee voting, previously slammed the initiative, saying it was "done illegally," inaccurately claiming the state had mailed every voter a ballot instead of an application for one.

Lawyers for the president's campaign have filed multiple lawsuits against states and counties across the U.S. in an effort to suppress various vote-by-mail initiatives.

In this Monday, May 18, 2020, file photo, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, speaks in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. A bill that would allow Michigan clerks to start processing absentee ballots before Election Day is not dead, and the August primary legitimized concerns that officials won't be able to quickly handle a surge of mailed-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, Shirkey said.

In this Monday, May 18, 2020, file photo, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, speaks in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. A bill that would allow Michigan clerks to start processing absentee ballots before Election Day is not dead, and the August primary legitimized concerns that officials won't be able to quickly handle a surge of mailed-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, Shirkey said.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose also reported a new record this week -- more than 1 million requests for ballots 55 days ahead of the election, nearly one month faster than that milestone was reached in 2016. The breakneck pace appears to show the urgency at which voters are preparing for Nov. 3.

"While we're making sure voters will be able to safely vote in person, this incredible demand for absentee voting speaks to the confidence Ohioans have in the system," LaRose said in a statement. "It's strong. It's secure. And our county boards of elections are prepared."

The news comes as states across the country are preparing for an influx of absentee ballots as many fear heading to crowded polls on Election Day during the coronavirus pandemic.

Myrna Perez, director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, said the influx represents people's excitement to get to the polls and could be a predictor of a big turnout.

"We believe that there will be really exciting levels of voter turnout, and we believe that that is going to happen notwithstanding the fact that we are in a once-in-a-century pandemic," Perez said.

A record 75% of Americans will be eligible to vote by mail this year, according to The New York Times.

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