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Record-Setting 2.1M Absentee Ballots Requested So Far

September 15, 2020

As of Wednesday, 2.1 million voters had requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, eclipsing a record set during the August primary of 2,065,000 requests for absentee ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s office Thursday morning. 

“We do expect that we again will have record setting turnout,” said Jake Rollow, spokesman for the Department of State. “Sixty to 70% of the turnout will be absentee ballots.” 
 
Since the Aug. 5 primary, Rollow said that 1.7 million voters had requested absentee ballots for the general election.

During Thursday’s press call, he again reiterated calls made by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to the Legislature to allow for earlier processing of absentee ballots to allow clerks plenty of time to process the vote and therefore, reduce delays in announcing results.  
 
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) did appear to open the door to that possibility on Tuesday.  
 
Rollow did note, however, that SB 0757, the bill the Senate would likely utilize, only allows for 10 additional hours of processing time in advance of election day.  
 
“The bipartisan policy center recommends seven days at least,” he said. “We’d love to see more time. SB 0757 has the advantage that it passed through the Senate elections committee unanimously. It’s not ideal, but it would help.” 
 
On the 500,000 absentee ballot applications that were mailed and returned to the Department of State, Rollow said given that the list hasn’t been mailed to in more than a decade, the return rate isn’t surprising. 
 
He reiterated that local clerks will be using the returned applications to clean up their lists after the Nov. 3 election in compliance with federal law.  
 
Other highlights of the briefing call:  
 
– The state is assisting in the setup of 1,000 ballot drop boxes throughout the state. 
 
– To date, 12,000 volunteer poll workers have been recruited.

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