Thursday, May 28, 2020

City Clerk: Turnout high off-campus, low on-campus

November 7, 2017
East Lansing City Hall is pictured on Sep. 12, 2017 on Linden Street. Here, the East Lansing City Council meets to discuss residents' concerns.
East Lansing City Hall is pictured on Sep. 12, 2017 on Linden Street. Here, the East Lansing City Council meets to discuss residents' concerns. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Off-campus turnout for the 2017 East Lansing General Election has been good for an odd-year, local election, according to City Clerk Marie Wicks. 

"I'm sure there was a lot of interest because we have a student running," Wicks said. "And the tax question, the local tax question and the county question have been subjects to controversy."

But on campus, there was very little turnout, which was surprising. 

"There's been a big huge 'get out and vote' effort and so I anticipated and we planned for a much better turnout than what we've actually seen," Wicks said. "But off-campus, it's been very very steady."

There was a high absentee voter ballot turnout this year, with about 1,300 votes cast. This is also the first time the City of East Lansing is using new polling equipment since more than a decade ago.  

"All in all, I don't want to jinx myself, I'm very pleased with how the day went," Wicks said. "Especially with the new equipment. This is a big deal." 

Wicks expected more participation from students on campus in general, especially since MSU student Aaron Stephens was on the ballot, but notes that students who live off campus are typically older, more experienced with voting and have lived in the city longer. 

"I was a little surprised," Wicks said. "It's disappointing on our end because we do have five precincts on campus and four polling locations which we staff and we're there and we really want the students to get out and vote."

Though in smaller elections lower turnout is typically anticipated, the Ingham County Clerk had ballots ordered for every single registered voter, whether they chose to vote or not. 

"Students had a lot of other stuff going on," Wicks said. "It's very different when we get to elections with greater breadth and scope. Presidential, students turned out on campus."

She expects more on campus turnout in next year's 2018 Gubernatorial Election and the city will continue to work with MSUvote to register more students.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see it be very similar to 2016 and we want to be prepared for it," Wicks said.

Results will be posted here.

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