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Whitmer visits polling site to tout early in-person voting in presidential primary

Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivers donuts to election workers accepting early ballots for Michigan’s presidential primary.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, bearing boxes of pastries, dropped by an early voting center in Lansing on Wednesday to thank election workers and to call attention to the state’s early voting law.

More than 18,000 people have already taken advantage of the new law that allows nine days of early in-person voting at designated polling places. It’s being used for the first time as part of the state’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Whitmer said Michigan moving its primary earlier will make its voters more influential in choosing both parties’ nominees.

“Now is the time to make our voices heard,” said the Democratic governor. “We’ve moved up the Michigan primary, I think, because Michigan’s voice is so important that are earlier in the process. This is our chance to vote. We’ve expanded the ability to vote. We’ve made it easier to register to vote.”

Republicans were not as keen to move up the primary date to February 27 because it violated national GOP rules. Michigan will apportion nominating convention delegates using a hybrid primary-and-caucus process.

President Joe Biden is widely expected to win the state’s Democratic primary while former President Donald Trump is the favorite to win the Republican primary. They are both also favorites to win their party’s nomination.

Whitmer, a national Biden campaign co-chair, the new state law should also spur wider participation in the November election, when Michigan voters are expected to play a crucial role in the outcome.

A poll released Wednesday by The Detroit Free Press showed Trump leading Biden 45% to 41% with 14% undecided. The poll’s 4% margin of error allows the possibility of a tie. The EPIC-MRA survey of 600 registered voters was conducted last week.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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