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Flint debuts faster absentee ballot counting machine

Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 6:54 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Lines at some Flint polling places stretched half a block long early Tuesday and poll workers say the stream of voters remained steady all day.

In 2016, there were about 34,000 ballots cast, which is roughly 45% turnout. Compared to the rest of Genesee County, that’s low because in 2016, there was a voter turnout of about 60% countywide.

At the time, nearly 70% of votes went to the Democratic Party.

Flint City Clerk Inez Brown said her office issued about 21,000 absentee ballots and about 18,000 of those were returned before Election Day. She said the highest absentee ballot turnout came in 2008 with about 10,000, so this year’s number nearly doubles that.

The city is getting a head start on processing absentee ballots and has a new Verity Central System to count them faster. Previously, ballots were scanned one at a time, but the new system scans over triple that number -- nearly 100 ballots per minute.

In Genesee County, only Flint and Flint Township are using the new system with hopes to getting the results out quicker. But speed doesn’t mean the clerk’s office will accept less than accurate results.

“Hopefully, it will not take like three or four days to process because it’s speedy and so forth," Brown said. "But in addition to that, we want to be sure that everything is accurate and we will not release anything unless it is accurate.”

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