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Michigan: Roughly 100,000 outstanding ballots still need to be counted; Biden’s lead likely to increase

State elections officials expect to announce the winner later today

John Moore/Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are in a hotly contested race in the battleground state of Michigan, where Biden has taken the lead with a large number of outstanding absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Roughly 96% of the vote has been counted as of Wednesday morning, with Biden leading Trump by around 30,000 votes. Yet the Detroit Free Press reports that roughly 100,000 ballots still need to be counted before Michigan can announce the winner.

The remaining ballots are absentee ballots and are expected to tilt in favor of Biden, expanding his lead. The estimate of outstanding ballots is based on total voter participation numbers released by the state government.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said delays in the vote count were expected and that state election officials are working to ensure that every vote is counted.

"Election officials worked through the night to #CountEveryVote. That work continues," Benson tweeted Wednesday morning. "Hundreds of thousands of ballots in our largest jurisdictions are still being counted, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Warren & Sterling Heights. Every vote will count."

The areas with sizable outstanding votes include Wayne and Kent counties. Wayne County, which includes Detroit and has 67% of precincts reporting, is a Democratic stronghold in Michigan. In Kent County, which leans Republican, about 85% of precincts have fully reported.

With more votes to come in from Wayne County than any other area of Michigan, Biden is expected to make strong gains.

According to Benson, a record 5.26 million Michiganders voted in the 2020 election. More than 3.26 million votes were cast via absentee ballots, but Michigan state law prohibits clerks from counting ballots until the morning of the election, which is the reason for the delay.

State election officials believe the final results of the Michigan election will be known later today.

The vote count in Michigan is not without some discrepancies.

Results showing Biden winning staunchly Republican Antrim County were reportedly incorrect.

According to Zach Gorchow, the executive editor and publisher of Gongwer Michigan, vote totals from the county were transposed and, once corrected, should give both Trump and Republican Senate candidate John James about a 6,000 vote gain.

In 2016, Trump carried Michigan by 10,704 votes, several thousand votes fewer than Biden's apparent lead in 2020.

Down ballot, Republican Senate candidate John James appears to be outperforming President Trump, leading incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) by just 12,576 votes according to WJBK-TV. Still, the outstanding votes from Wayne County are expected to favor Democrats, which could push Peters over the finish line.

Given reported vote totals nationwide, the presidential election is likely to come down to whichever candidate can win 2 of 3 states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Late Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin Elections Commission declared "all of the votes have been counted" with Biden reportedly leading Wisconsin by 20,697 votes.

One last thing…
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