New same-day registration leads to long lines at Michigan polls, anger from Sanders

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Michigan’s first statewide election where voters could use same-day registration -- as well as no-reason absentee voting -- resulted in long lines at polling places and withering criticism from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The new same-day registration rules, which were approved by a 2018 initiative, saw major delays occur across Michigan, especially in college towns such as Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo, where hundreds of people lined up at city clerks’ offices to register or request absentee ballots.

"We are working with those jurisdictions to try and get them additional support so they can keep those lines moving," Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, told the Detroit News. "If you’re in line at a clerk’s office at 8 p.m., you will be allowed to register and vote.”

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The delays to process votes, however, did not hinder the race being called early for former Vice President Joe Biden, who was announced the winner of Michigan’s Democratic primary shortly after polls officially closed at 8 p.m. local time.

The win is a major coup for Biden, as Michigan is a key battleground state that helped propel Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy four years ago. The former vice president's victory in Michigan, as well as Missouri and Mississippi, dealt a serious blow to Sanders, who is urgently seeking to jump-start his flagging campaign.

Sanders' campaign was quick to condemn the long waits voters had to endure in Michigan and in other parts of the country -- calling it “an outrage” and noting that the Democrats have long fought against “voter suppression.”

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“At a time when Democrats correctly attack Republicans for voter suppression, it is disappointing to see people standing in long lines for hours today waiting to vote in Michigan and around the country,” Sanders said in a statement. “People should not have to miss a day of work to exercise their right to vote.”

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He added: “This is an outrage. Election officials must address these problems immediately, and if necessary, keep polling places open longer.”