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Divided state of Michigan raises many questions on this year's ballot. Here's what you need to know

Michigan Democrats hope to gain an advantage in one of the chambers in the midterm election. The state has been divided with Democratic Gov. Whitmer and a GOP controlled statehouse..

Michigan has been a divided state the past four years with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a GOP-controlled statehouse.

Democrats hope to gain an advantage in at least one of the chambers in the midterm elections, buoyed by redistricting after the 2020 Census that was handled for the first time by a nonpartisan commission.

Other top races include Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel running against Kalamazoo lawyer Matthew DePerno, and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson against former community college professor Kristina Karamo. Both Republican challengers are 2020 election deniers.

Michigan lost a U.S. House seat coming out of the Census but still has three of its 13 districts drawing national attention.


Elsewhere on the ballot, a proposed constitutional amendment would negate a 91-year-old state law banning abortion in all instances except to save the life of the mother. A record number of people — over 750,000 — signed petitions to put the measure on the ballot after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Another ballot question asks whether Michigan should expand opportunities to vote, including through absentee and early voting. The measure would require state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, as well as postage for absentee ballots and applications, and allow voters to join a permanent list to have absentee ballots sent for every election. It also would allow Michigan voters to verify their identity with a signed statement or a photo ID, and it would require nine days of in-person early voting.


Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

Election Night

Polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Most of the state is in the Eastern Time Zone and closes at 8 p.m. ET. Four counties are in the Central Time Zone and do not close until 9 p.m. ET. The AP will not make any race calls in Michigan before 9 p.m. ET.

How Michigan Votes

A record-breaking 3.3 million people in Michigan voted absentee in the 2020 presidential election at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. State elections officials have said to expect about 2.25 million absentee ballots submitted if trends continue.

The more than 5.5 million people who voted in Michigan’s presidential election was the most ever and the highest percentage of voting-age residents to cast a ballot in 60 years. A 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment that allowed for no-excuse absentee voting, in addition to the pandemic, has led voters in the state to increasingly vote absentee rather than at the polls on Election Day.

Counties to watch will be the four most populous: Wayne, which includes Detroit; suburban counties of Oakland and Macomb; and Kent in western Michigan where Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city is located.

Decision Notes

The AP is counting votes and declaring winners in more than 160 contested races, including six statewide: governor, secretary of state, attorney general, Supreme Court and three ballot measures, along with U.S. House, state Senate and state House.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.

Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a mandatory recount to change the outcome.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2%. The AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

What Else Should I Know?

Q: What’s Changed Since the Pandemic Election of 2020?

A: Clerks can only begin processing the returned ballots the Sunday before Election Day under anagreement reached by Whitmer and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Clerks are allowed to remove absentee ballots from their outer envelopes but still can’t remove secrecy sleeves or count votes until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

Delays in results in Michigan, which has one of themost decentralized election systemsin the country, hasleft room for the spread of misinformation in the past. Many clerks have argued that the change will do little good in speeding up the count.

Q: What Do Turnout and Advance Vote Look Like?

A: Two weeks ahead of Election Day, more than 1.8 million absentee ballots had been requested by voters and 771,967 absentee ballots have been submitted. A record-breaking 3.3 million people in Michigan voted absentee in the 2020 presidential election at the height of the pandemic.

Q: How Long Does Counting Usually Take?

A: First results are expected at 8:15 p.m. ET. In the 2020 election, AP reported 94% of results on election night.

Q: What Are the Pitfalls With Early Returns?

A: Heavily Democratic voting Detroit and Wayne County, where Detroit is located, are the most populous city and county in the state and often among the latest to post final results, which can eat into or even erase Republican leads.

Q: What Happens After Tuesday?

A: Michigan has a mandatory recount if the difference is 2,000 votes or less. It does not apply in races with more than one winner.

Under state law, if the board of county canvassers fails to certify the results of any election for any officer or proposition by the 14th day after the election, the board of county canvassers must deliver to the state board of canvassers all records pertaining to the election. The state canvassers must certify the results within 10 days following the receipt of the records.

Michigan became the focus of national attention after the 2020 election when the Wayne County canvassing board initially split on approving the results, then voted to certify. The results went to the state board, which voted 3-0 with one abstention to certify state results.

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