Michigan 2020: Election Administration in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Election officials maintain that the administration of the November 2020 general election in Michigan was “the smoothest it has ever been.” The state reached record levels in overall and absentee turnout, rejected record low rates of absentee ballots, and counted most of its ballots earlier than expected. Moreover, fears of voter intimidation, grounded in Michigan’s recent history of right-wing militia violence, did not materialize. In the words of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, “polling locations were islands of calm.” Despite these successes, controversy about the fairness of the election abounded. Even before the election, partisans warned of pervasive mail ballot fraud. These charges gained greater ammunition after Election Day, as President Donald Trump’s Election Night lead faded with the counting of absentee ballots (a phenomenon known as the “red mirage” followed by a “blue shift”). Despite ten failed lawsuits and days of politicized legislative hearings, though, no reliable evidence of substantial fraud emerged. Nevertheless, the post-election environment spawned conspiracy theories that persisted well past the certification of the vote. As a result, despite the well-run election, confidence in the election system, especially among Michigan Republicans, eroded significantly.

Author: Mathew Simkovits

A final report on Michigan's performance during the 2020 general election.

Final Report / March 10, 2021
Fill 1