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Absentee ballot returns are near 90 percent in Kalamazoo, Portage and Battle Creek

A blue and white sandwich board sign on the edge of an intersection with cars passing in the distance
Leona Larson
A sign outside a polling place in the City of Kalamazoo Tuesday morning

Clerks' offices for the cities also said this afternoon they had not had any reports of security problems at polling places. But Justice Department officials are ready to step in in in five cities across the state if there is trouble.

Roughly 90 percent of absentee voters in Portage returned their ballots by about 2 p.m. That’s according to Portage City Clerk Erica Eklov. In Battle Creek, nearly 90 percent of AV ballots had been returned and the number is about the same for the City of Kalamazoo.

In Kalamazoo, City Clerk Scott Borling said people who register to vote today at the clerk’s office can get an absentee ballot, but that’s not expected to increase totals too much more.

Borling said the city has seen a significant increase in absentee voting this election over the last gubernatorial election. That of course was in 2018, when no-reason absentee voting wasn’t yet allowed in Michigan. Voters approved that change during the 2018 midterm.

All three cities said this afternoon they had had zero reports of security problems at polling places.

However, US Justice Department monitors are in place in five Michigan cities to step in, if necessary, if there are problems at polling places, absentee ballot drop boxes, or counting stations.

The cities are Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Southfield and Grand Rapids. US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said the monitors will include attorneys and personnel from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Just to be eyes on the ground, make sure everything is going smoothly and then be ready, ready to respond if needed," he said.

Totten said the department is keeping an eye out for instances of voter intimidation, threats to election officials or poll workers, and credible claims of election fraud.