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Michigan didn’t mail 7.7 million ballots to voters

May 20, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: BREAKING: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of primaries and the general election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Michigan mailed applications for ballots, not the ballots themselves. 

THE FACTS: President Donald Trump, a Republican, falsely claimed in a Facebook and Twitter post that Michigan’s secretary of state mailed ballots to millions of voters in the state. 

The incorrect post is circulating online. 

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Applications for absentee ballots, not ballots, were mailed to registered voters. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, announced Tuesday that the state mailed absentee ballot application to 7.7 million registered ahead of Michigan’s August primary and November election. 

Benson said mailing the applications cost the state $4.5 million, covered with funds from the federal coronavirus relief package. 

Traditionally, Michigan voters have had to ask their local clerk for an absentee ballot.  

Benson’s announcement was criticized by some state Republicans who argued that local clerks should handle the requests and the money would have been better spent on  protective equipment for polling places and election workers — plexiglass dividers, masks, gloves and sanitizer — and on machines to more quickly process surging absentee ballots.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved a statewide ballot initiative that eased election restrictions, including allowing voters to request an absentee ballot without reason. 

Voters must sign the absentee ballot request and local clerks check the signature on that form against the registration in the voter’s file.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536