2020 election shows unprecedented voter turnout in Michigan


Courtesy to The Oakland Press

Kylie Elwell, Staff Reporter

With the 2020 election being one of the most important elections for the United States in recent years, Michigan voters showed up at poll locations, sent in absentee ballots and exercised their voting rights. The state of Michigan received more than 5.5 million ballots — including over 3 million absentee ballots, making the turn out for the election a historic event for the state.

Michigans 2020 voter turnout was so significant that it beat out the previous record from the 2008 election when around 5 million people voted. In total, 82 out of the 83 counties in Michigan reported votes for the election on Nov. 3, 2020. In many counties around the state, there are statistics showing that there was a significant increase in voters this election compared to the last.

During the March presidential primary, about 40% of the ballots cast in Ottawa County were absentee,” said Steven Daitch, Elections Coordinator of Ottawa County. “For this election, that figure is closer to 60%.”

Michigan received the majority of their ballots from absentee voters dropping them in drop boxes around their cities and mailing them into their county clerk. The current pandemic had a definite impact on this election, but it is hard for counties to tell just how much of an impact it actually had against people choosing to vote or not vote, even with the option of an absentee ballot.

This is by far the highest number of absentee ballots ever cast in Michigan,” Daitch said. “This is partially a result of Proposal 18-3 in 2018 that allowed voters in Michigan to vote absentee without providing a reason. Its hard to tell how much of an impact the pandemic had on our absentee numbers, but I think its safe to assume that it greatly increased the interest in voting absentee.”

Biden was named the winner of Michigan by late evening on Nov. 4 despite there still being some uncounted votes. The majority of these votes came from absentee ballots and were expected to aid Bidens lead even more. All of the Ottawa County precincts were reported by the early morning on Nov. 4.

Some counties of Michigan that stuck out from the others with outlier votes were Wayne, which had 85.7% of precincts fully reporting. Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, and Kent county all had 100% of precincts fully reporting. Kent County had a 72.25% turnout, with 362,074 total voters out of the 501,117 registered voters the county has.

Daitch said Ottawa County had 169,405 ballots cast in this election. Of those, 100,078 (59%) were cast absentee, and the county had a total voter turnout of 76.76%, with 221,421 total registered voters.

For more information regarding voting and the election in Ottawa and Kent County, you can visit their respective websites.