Tuesday, July 14, 2020

2020 Michigan primary turnout matched 2018 on MSU's campus

March 12, 2020
<p>Volunteers help students during their voting process at the District 13 polling precinct in IM East. The Michigan primary took place on March 10, 2020.</p>

Volunteers help students during their voting process at the District 13 polling precinct in IM East. The Michigan primary took place on March 10, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

The 2020 Michigan primary Tuesday featured a steady flow of turnout from voters on campus, according to election officials.

East Lansing received 10,829 total votes for a voter turnout of 41%. These votes include both absentee and precinct votes.

Although predominantly steady, the day started slow at IM East for voter turnout according to election inspector and MSU senior Jacob Shaver. 

“I was pretty disappointed at first ... but it has picked up a lot and I am happy with it,” Shaver said.

Around 11 a.m., voter turnout increased according to election inspector Elaine Steffek. 

“I would say right around now is the heaviest we’ve had so far,” said Steffek. “Lunchtime, between 11 and 1 when people have a little extra free time.”

Steffek said turnout has been on par with other primaries in the past.

“I would say it's been steady. It has only really been slow when we first opened up so far at seven o’clock,” Steffek said.

“There is a significant increase in the number of same day voters,” Mikell Frey, East Lansing communications coordinator, said. 

At 7:15 p.m., IM East had 280 votes on the day. This precinct covers all of the East Neighborhood except Holmes Hall. The precinct finished at 280 votes accounting for a 31.78% turnout.

In Precinct 1, election inspector Megan Kiefer also said the polls were steady. 

“We’ve had a pretty steady flow the last probably three or four hours.” Kiefer said.

“Right now we’re at about 220 people and that is just people who have voted in person,” Kiefer said at around 3:00 p.m. “It doesn’t take into account the people who have voted absentee. We know there have been a lot of those.”

Precinct 1 had 418 votes on the day according to unofficial results. This is equal to a 32.8% turnout for that precinct.

It was a different story at East Lansing City Hall. At City Hall, voters waited upwards of 3 hours to register and vote. At 8 p.m., 400 people were in line according to an estimate by county commissioner for district 8 Mark Grebner.

The city reported the surge in a press release Wednesday, with 572 total voters at City Hall on Election Day.

Grebner, who has worked 48 years in elections, commented on the lack of efficiency at City Hall.

"There's no reason that people shouldn't be able to go and vote promptly. ... The city didn't have an adequate staff available today," he said.

According to Grebner, City Hall simply needed more people to help facilitate the voting process.

"That job doesn't have to be somebody who's worked 10 elections before. That job could probably be farmed out to a well trained monkey," he said.

Grebner also mentioned the need for a better plan especially with more voters projected to turn out for the November presidential election.

"They've got to have a plan for this and it can't just be to be surprised. And that seems to have been their plan today is to be surprised," Grebner said.

East Lansing City Clerk Jenna Shuster responded to the long wait times at City Hall.

“While additional legislation to support local clerks to effectively conduct elections continues and our plans increase for future elections, we also encourage people to sign up to work as election inspectors. It is an important part of democracy, now more than ever, as voters become more and more engaged," Shuster said.

At around 10:40 p.m., the last person voted in city hall 2 hours, 45 minutes after the polls closed.

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