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Michigan voting advocates worry about potential "disaster" in November

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Voting rights advocates say they are concerned after watching Michigan’s August primary this week.

On primary night, Michigan Secretary of StateJocelyn Benson described the election as running “smoothly” despite being pushed to its limit.  

But there were problems in Detroit and other cities that needed help with staffing polling places and many voters described problems with getting absentee ballots.

Aghogho Edevbie is the state director of All Voting is Local.He worries heavy turnout for the November election could exacerbate the problems seen during the August primary.

"If we don’t fix these things...in November we’re going to have a very bad situation that could turn into a disaster,” says Edevbie.

More than 1.5 million absentee ballots were cast in the August primary.

That number is expected to be significantly higher in November. 

Sharon Dolente is a voting rights strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union-Michigan. She sees issues with the slow counting of absentee ballots.

“Election officials have to plan now to significantly increase their capacity to handle twice as many absentee ballot as they handled in this August primary,” says Dolente. “And that’s not going to be easy.”

A coalition of voter rights groups is calling for hiring more poll workers, increasing the number of absentee ballot drop boxes and encouraging more Michiganders to vote early.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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