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Michigan Secretary Of State Says Poll Workers Will Ensure 'Every Vote Is Counted'

Detroit election workers work on counting absentee ballots for the 2020 general election at TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
Detroit election workers work on counting absentee ballots for the 2020 general election at TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the Trump campaign's lawsuit challenging her state’s preliminary election results is “frivolous.”

The Associated Press has called Michigan for Joe Biden, who is leading in the state by nearly 3 percentage points, or about 150,000 votes, with 98% of the votes counted.

"We’re not going to let any campaign or candidate or political party stop our work to ensure that every vote is counted and every voice is heard," she says.

Michigan election officials now have 10 days to review the ballot counting process at the state, county and local levels to ensure the work was done properly before issuing the final election results certification, she says.

During that canvassing period, Benson says the "patriotic thing" for anxious voters to do is "respect the integrity of our elections, respect the will of the people."

Interview Highlights

On the Trump campaign's claims they have been denied "meaningful access" to vote tallying locations in Michigan

"First, we have consistently followed all the protocols and really ensured transparency throughout our process. Both through the voting process and the tabulation process, we’ve been very meticulous, secure [and] transparent. Notably, the process went very, very smooth. We had observers involved on both sides in many organizations throughout the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, all throughout the state, and it really wasn’t until we got toward the end that we started to see people coming in who had not been involved in the process up to that point. You saw what happened at [TCF Center in Detroit] and really, it seemed [to] try to interfere with the process."

On the task of keeping polling centers safe and clear for workers to do their jobs

"That we have to continue to stay steadfastly focused on that. We’re in this very unique moment in the history of our country. We’ve seen throughout this entire election cycle, anxiety and tensions are very high right now, and we have tried in Michigan, really in a bipartisan way, with clerks on both sides of the aisle and election workers also on both sides of the aisle, to make sure that we focus on simply ensuring every vote can be counted, every vote is validated, no invalid votes are counted — all of those things. And it really wasn’t until where, you know, results began to be talked about in a more concrete way that we started to see some of the disruptions.

“Despite all of the national rhetoric and attempts to undermine folks’ perceptions about the integrity of our process, it actually exceeded our expectations, both in efficiency and in integrity and in security. That, to me, at the end of the day, is the story here in Michigan. We saw more people vote than ever before and we saw more people come together from both sides to really protect the process. And moving forward, I think we’re just going to see more evidence of why that’s truly the case here in our state."

On how Michigan used federal funding for election security improvements

"That enabled us to effectively ensure voters knew how to vote from home and how to vote absentee and how to deliver in cases where the mail service was unreliable, how to make sure their ballots got in on time. So we were able to fund and install drop boxes all across the state of Michigan and secure them as well with surveillance footage. We increased the number of high-speed ballot tabulators, which did increase the efficiency of our tabulation process over the past 48 hours. So all of that was really critical, and I’m hopeful in the future we’ll continue to see more of that support come forward from our federal government."


Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Chris Bentley. Elie Levine adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.