Michigan sends mail-in vote applications to all registered voters


DETROIT (Reuters) – Michigan will send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, a state official announced on Tuesday, as the state prepares to hold the Nov. 3 election largely by mail due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, said 1.3 million permanent absentee voters are normally mailed an application before each election, but that would be extended to all 7.7 million Michigan voters.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Voters will have to return an application by mail or email to receive a ballot to vote in the Aug. 4 state primary or the Nov. 3 general election.

The state, which voted narrowly for Republican President Donald Trump in 2016, will be closely watched as Trump seeks re-election in November, likely against former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.

Michigan has recorded more than 50,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 5,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Conservatives including Trump have said that increasing use of voting by mail could increase the risk of fraud in elections. There is little evidence of significant voter fraud in the United States.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on a Monday press call that she was not opposed to states sending out applications, rather than ballots themselves, to voters who had not requested them, as long as checks were in place to confirm the identity of the voter.

Reporting by Michael Martina in Detroit and Simon Lewis in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio