November 4, 2020 at 2:02 PM EST
Michigan official expects unofficial results within 24 hours and says they’d withstand a Trump challenge
By Moriah Balingit and Elise Viebeck
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday afternoon that she expected unofficial election results “within the next 24 hours,” with about 100,000 ballots left to count, and pledged to defend the results if they were challenged by the Trump administration.
Speaking at a news conference 16 hours after polls closed, Benson (D) said that more than 5 million votes had been cast in Michigan — and that about 3.2 million of those were absentee ballots. Many of the ballots that remained uncounted were in the state’s larger jurisdictions, such as Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids.
Benson said she and other election clerks had lobbied state lawmakers to allow them to start processing ballots before Election Day. Lawmakers ended up passing a very modest provision — allowing cities of more than 25,000 ten hours Monday to process absentee ballots. Benson said that was not enough time.
“Our state legislature chose not to make that change to our laws, and here we are, in Michigan, our counting process is continuing long after the polls closed,” she said.
Benson said both large and small jurisdictions have ballots outstanding, and she pushed back on questions about whether a recount could produce more favorable results for Trump.
“The data can change, and the first count is still happening right now. So I just want to step back like we’re asking everyone to do and let that count happen. Once we’re through that process, we can kind of go back and evaluate what comes next,” she said.
If Trump were to challenge vote tallies and contest the election before the Supreme Court, Benson said she was confident of prevailing.
“We’re very familiar with the process and legality of our process, and I have great confidence in it, and we’re ready to defend it,” Benson said.
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