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Election Integrity News Blog


Early Voting a Big Flat Flop. Secretary of State's Office Cites Scant Turnout as Reason for Cloaking Transparency. Will No Longer Honor Freedom of Information Act.

Updated: Apr 8

Meme by LX, The Authorz Voice,

Nothing to see here. Early voting excluded from transparency laws.

by Patrice Johnson    |    March 5, 2024


Nine days of early voting in Michigan’s Presidential Primary was a big, fat flop. Of the state’s 8.3 million registered voters, only 78 thousand, 4.12%, voted early. In contrast, cost of staffing polling locations across the state’s 1,520 jurisdictions for nine days skyrocketed, clipping taxpayers for approximately $30 million, more than doubling the $13 million cost of Michigan’s 2016 election.  The average cost per early voter was $383. Rather than discuss the issue or suggest remedies, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) changed to the state’s public reporting.


On February 29, just prior to the state’s release of Presidential Primary voting records, Secretary Benson’s Freedom of Information Act coordinator notified subscribers.


“The Voter Type column with codes A=Absentee, ED=Election Day, and EV=Early Voter will be removed from the report,” wrote FOIA Coordinator, Sherri Hines.


In other words, as of March 1, Michigan’s official voter rolls, called the Qualified Voter File (QVF), no longer disclose whether people voted absentee, on Election Day, or early voted.


Hines acknowledged the significance of the change, saying, “We know this is a big change to the reporting process.” Hines is an employee in the office of the Secretary of State and its Bureau of Elections.

The Secretary of State’s office initiated the cloaking, Hines said, in order to protect the secrecy of ballots. “The constitutional right to a secret ballot is the impetus behind this change in the reporting. For example, there were areas that reported one early voter and if the voting type were to be disclosed, it is possible that the electors vote would not remain secret once the election results are posted for their area.”


Tim Vetter, co-founder of CheckMyVote told Michigan Fair Elections the lack of transparency raised the specter of abuse. “Keep in mind, local clerks have seven days after an election to upload vote results into the QVF.”


Former Senator Patrick Colbeck tweeted opposition to the move, saying the change “inhibits the ability of auditors to verify the chain of custody for election records.”

To view your county’s participation scroll down the interactive map, color-coded for early turnout:

In fact, the turnout for the Presidential Primary has undergone a steady downtrend for the past eight years,—perhaps due to voters losing confidence in the integrity of elecitons due to the addition of no-excuse mail-in balloting, same day registration, drop boxes, loosened identity requirements, and unclear or lacking citizenship and identity verification.


CBS News reported on February 28, “More than 1.8 million Michiganders voted in the 2024 Democratic and Republican primaries, making up around 22% of registered voters statewide.” About 1.1 million (60%) of the voters cast ballots in the Republican primary, while around 740,000 (40%) voted in the Democratic primary.

*2004 is an outlier as the Presidential Primary was held during the November Presidential Election. Source:  Michigan Presidential Primary Facts and Statistics

No question, nine days of early voting in Michigan’s Presidential Primary was a giant flop. Kudos to the clerks who worked tirelessly to implement the major changes. No matter how a person slices early voting, few would argue that it is still preferable to mailing out millions of absentee ballots to voters on a 10-year absentee ballot list.


Learn how We The People can win back and secure OUR Future.

Join us Thursday, March 7th at 12 PM for

MFE's Coalition Task Force Meeting

Registration is required to attend the meeting.

You MUST use the link below for the March 7th meeting.

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Note: No representatives of the media are allowed in our meetings without permission.


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You're Invited to a PIME Meeting March 9, 2024

Join us at our March 9th Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) monthly meeting.

This month's keynote speaker will be Phani Mantravadi, key developer of

Learn about ongoing efforts to clean up voter rolls, and how YOU can help.

Get updates from the team on election legislation, upcoming events, ballot initiatives, fundraising, and on-going litigation.

It's a pot-luck, so come hungry and bring a dish to pass if you are so inclined.

Can't make this month's meeting? Click the link below to see our schedule for upcoming speakers, including William Wagner, Jason Woolford, and David Kallman.

Hope to see you there!


Mark your calendars to attend Election Integrity Network's outstanding national working groups. Consider also serving as liaison to report to MFE's Task Force Coalition on our Thursday meetings.  

  • Citizen Research Project | Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Election Technology | Jim Womack, NCEIT

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Introduction to Election Integrity Infrastructure | Kerri Toloczko and Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Vote By Mail / USPS | Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Legislative Development | Kathleen Harms, TN

  • Every Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Voter Roll Maintenance | Willard Helander, EIN

  • Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Vulnerable Voters | Kerri Toloczko, EIN

  • Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Election Audits | Mike Raisch

  • Every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Building Local Task Forces | Joshua Taylor

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE

  • Media Training | Kerri Toloczko

  • Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Register HERE


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Every article written by an MFE author is generated by the author or editor alone. Links embedded within the article, however, may have been generated by artificial intelligence.

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