Thursday, February 9, 2023

Voter turnout hits projected state figures, E.L. votes rise

November 16, 2000

Amidst controversy and accusations of problems at the polls, voter turnout this year met standards many expected.

In a written statement, Michigan Secretary of State Candice Miller said Michigan’s overall voter turnout was close to 62 percent. Miller projected before the election that between 4.2 and 4.3 million voters would make their way to the polls. The final Michigan tally was 4,233,913.

There are almost 7 million registered voters in Michigan, but only half will vote in any given election.

“We are looking at the situation and where the problems are and where they originated,” said Elizabeth Boyd, spokeswoman for the secretary of state. “We’re taking a step back and looking at it, and hopefully we’ll have a solution soon.”

The results will remain unofficial until Nov. 27, when the Board of State Canvassers meets to certify the votes.

East Lansing’s results are not far off from those across the state. Election Day saw 16,427 of 29,463 registered East Lansing voters travel to precincts across the city to vote.

Although only 55 percent of registered East Lansing voters made it out to vote, that number is up significantly from the turnout of the 1998 gubernatorial race. Only 12,842 of 33,112, or 39 percent of people registered in East Lansing, exercised their right to vote that year.

East Lansing proved to be a Democratic stronghold in this year’s election. Presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Stabenow and 8th Congressional District candidate Dianne Byrum won by decent margins over their Republican opponents.

“I think East Lansing is traditionally Democratic-leaning, but we never take it for granted,” said Dennis Denno, spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party. “The Democrats have always encouraged everyone to vote.”

East Lansing’s tendency to vote Democratic could influence which candidates make frequent visits to the city. While Gore stopped in town with little more than a week left to the election, Texas Gov. George W. Bush visited stronger Republican areas, such as Grand Rapids.

“On Election Day, we’re hoping to get out Republican or undecided voters that we can sway,” said Sage Eastman, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party. “Overall, we’d like to see higher turnouts. The more people involved, the better.”

Some critics have blamed the lower than average turnout in East Lansing on a law requiring voters to cast their vote in the same precinct as the address on their driver’s license. The policy may have proved to be confusing for both students and lawmakers, leading to problems on Election Day. But Mark Grebner of Practical Political Consulting said the policy may not have been as much of a hindrance as some have made it seem.

“The bill allowed the secretary of state to change the address on driver’s licenses when people registered to vote,” Grebner said. “It did not affect very many people. Ninety percent of students went out to vote and had no problems. The other 10 percent had a lot of problems.

“It may have only affected a hundred people or so.”

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