SOS Benson: Nearly 2M voted in ‘smooth’ Tuesday primary

By: and - August 3, 2022 2:38 pm

Election workers at Huntington Place in Detroit | Ken Coleman

In a press conference shortly after polls closed Tuesday night, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called Tuesday’s primary election “among the most secure and safe in the nation” as results continued to roll in.

With all but one Michigan county reporting results Wednesday afternoon, unofficial returns show that about 1 million Michiganders voted on the GOP gubernatorial ticket and just over 910,000 voted for the Democratic ticket — the latter number being notably large for an unopposed incumbent, namely Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Benson noted that more than 1.1 million absentee ballots were received by the state and more than 3,000 citizens registered to vote at polling places on Election Day. She called the primary election a “smooth and successful” operation and reiterated, as she has before, that Michigan elections are safe and secure.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at Ford Field in Detroit, Nov. 3, 2020 | Andrew Roth

“We’ve seen individuals with political agendas try to mislead the public by saying that any change or alteration in group totals is somehow evidence of wrongdoing. But that is simply not true,” Benson said of the provisional ballot counting process.

“It is, in fact, evidence that our election system is tremendously robust and has checks and balances built in to identify and correct any issues before results are finalized and officially certified.”

Many Republican figures, including some Michigan lawmakers, continue to doubt the veracity of the 2020 presidential election and cite baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud despite hundreds of state and local audits disproving those claims.

Michigan’s GOP nominees for governor, Tudor Dixon; attorney general, Matthew DePerno; and secretary of state, Kristina Karamo have also pushed falsehoods about the 2020 election.

Asked whether any precincts ran into issues, Benson said there were several challenges at individual locations that were “swiftly addressed.”

Those include precincts in Inkster opening without electronic poll books, which contain a precinct’s list of registered voters. Benson said poll workers were able to verify this information before the books arrived by using in-person verification and a paper trail that subsequently confirmed all voters to be eligible.

The vote-tallying process in Wayne County was delayed by a modem issue that slowed down data collection efforts in the clerk’s office. 

Lapeer County encountered an issue with some ballots that made them unreadable in the tabulating machines, which was also overcome by election workers.

A suspicious backpack was found at a Genesee County polling location earlier in the day which forced voters to cast their ballots in a different, nearby location. The Michigan State Police’s bomb squad eventually determined that the backpack did not contain explosives and the precinct was reopened.

Huntington Place in Detroit | Ken Coleman

The city of Detroit vote-tallying process was in its final stages early Wednesday morning. As of 7 a.m. only a couple of dozen election workers were seen in the main processing area at Huntington Place. 

However, late Tuesday evening, GOP voting challenger Braden Giacobazzi of Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity was removed by security from Detroit Central Counting Board, according to a Bridge Detroit reporter on Twitter. 

Edith Lee-Payne, a veteran Detroit election worker, posted on Facebook at 5 a.m. Wednesday that her effort was complete. 

“So, 19 hours later, headed home from a long, long, day of counting absentee ballots at Huntington Place. Worth every minute!” she stated. 

“The takeaway I’ve seen really in the months leading up to today and what I anticipate will follow is that Michigan’s elections are secure and safe and the results are an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Benson said.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.