Guest Column: Election Officials Are Ready for November

Voters should be confident in the integrity of the vote.
By Aghogho Edevbie, ’08, JD’12


Read time: 2 minutes
Aghogho Edevbie, ’08, JD’12, deputy secretary of state for the state of Michigan (middle), and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (right), meets with election workers. Photo courtesy of Secretary of State's office

As we head toward a historic presidential election, it can be easy to focus solely on the increasingly sharp partisan battle. However, election officials across the country are focused on how we can do our jobs to administer a safe, secure, and fair election.

This will be no easy task as the last presidential election drastically transformed the election landscape. In November 2020, more than 4 million people contracted the coronavirus, leading to 37,000 deaths. The pandemic profoundly changed voting behavior.

In 2016 in Michigan, 26 percent of voters cast an absentee ballot, and in 2020 that number jumped to 57 percent. The election season ended with nefarious claims of fraud, which resulted in the Jan. 6 insurrection. In the years since, election officials have taken on new and demanding responsibilities, especially with Michigan’s passage of in-person early voting.

Despite it all, we are ready for this November.

Our department secured millions of dollars from the federal government for critical physical and cyber security upgrades for local election officials. Under the leadership of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, we’ve organized trainings for more than 600 election officials and law enforcement members to prepare for potential election disruptions.

During the 2022 midterm, we saw hours-long lines on the University of Michigan and Michigan State University campuses. To make things easier, we are setting up Election Day vote centers in Ann Arbor and East Lansing. These centers will allow people to register to vote and cast a ballot straight into a tabulator in one visit, rather than the current method of filling out an absentee ballot. This will hopefully lead to quicker lines for student voters and fewer administrative hurdles for election officials.

In the face of this tremendous progress, some continue to spread doubts about the integrity of our system. These arguments ignore the many safeguards built into our electoral process. This year alone, we developed an early voting electronic poll book that updates in real-time to ensure that once a voter cast their ballot, they cannot vote at another early voting site.

Our democracy works. And voters can be confident because their election officials are doing the hard work to keep it that way.

Aghogho Edevbie, ’08, JD’12, is deputy secretary of state for the state of Michigan.

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