Mich. voter turnout third highest in history
Michigan voters recorded the state’s third-highest turnout for the presidential primary Tuesday when 1.48 million voters headed to the polls — but MSU students’ level of contribution is difficult to determine.
On-campus precincts elicited a lower voter turnout than the res t of Ingham County, which accounted for 37,650 votes. MSU’s four on-campus sites averaged 8.65 percent of registered voters.
Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, said she was pleased with the voter turnout given a myriad of complications.
Chesney said inclement weather, the 16-year gap between two-party primary elections and a new state law that gives state Republican and Democratic parties voter information could have deterred more voters.
“Given all those factors, we were pleased to see nearly 1.5 million people participate in the primary,” Chesney said.
Top three Michigan primaries turnout
Total voters: 1.9 million
Democratic winner: George C. Wallace
Republican winner: Richard Nixon
Total: voters 1.7 million
Democratic winner: Jimmy Carter
Republican winner: Gerald Ford
Total Voters: 1.48 million
Democratic winner: Hillary Clinton
Republican winner: Mitt Romney
Source: Michigan Secretary of State
Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, said although on-campus turnout was low, various factors play into that figure. He said many students are not registered in East Lansing, which means they could have voted by absentee ballot or driven home to vote.
“If you’ve ever gone door-to-door in the dorms, there’s a significant amount of people who would rather vote in their hometowns and don’t change their registration,” Meadows said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t vote because they don’t show up in our precincts.”
The overall voter tally also is misleading, said Mark Kornbluh, an MSU professor of history and voter participation expert.
He said because the 2000 primary consisted of only a Republican ballot, voter turnout this year is overstated and will be among the lowest in the country.
Kornbluh said the turnout wasn’t surprising considering Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who won the state nomination, was the only major candidate on the Democratic ballot.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards removed their names from the ballot when the state moved up its primary date, which violated Democratic National Committee rules and caused Michigan to lose its convention delegates.
Michigan native and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the state’s Republican vote Tuesday.
While the Democratic ballot posed problems for many Democratic voters, Meadows said it affected MSU’s participation greatly.
“I would expect that we’re a Democratic primary (area) which does not have all the candidates in it,” he said. “It would be hard to motivate students to the polls in that primary.”
MSU’s voter turnout was not reminiscent of young voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, where young voters cast ballots in “numbers we haven’t seen in a generation,” Kornbluh said.
“At MSU you saw very little mobilization going on for voters because the Democratic ballot did not give MSU voters the choice they wanted,” he said.