Tomorrow The Chronicle plans to log a few miles visiting as many precinct polling places as we can. We’re getting a ride from Stephen Postema, city attorney and one of three election commissioners for Ann Arbor. The other two are city clerk Jacqueline Beaudry and police chief Barnett Jones.
We’ve chosen not to obtain press credentials so that we can have the same experience the general public has at any polling place on election day. In this we’re taking a page from Postema’s book. He doesn’t vote absentee, he says, because he wants to get a feeling for the voting experience that most voters have. That will mean that he’s not even able to cut in line – no special privileges are afforded Postema as city attorney or as election commissioner.
That goes for The Chronicle as well. Postema made clear to us that we won’t be given any special access tomorrow to areas reserved for election inspectors. No talking to people in line. No photography inside the the polling place. Even if Postema wanted to give us special access – and to be clear, he doesn’t want to and he’s not going to – it’s not like tagging along really close behind Postema is enough to give us the credibility we’d need to go unchallenged into guarded areas.
Following him in the clerk’s office this morning, we were met by a staffer who politely blocked us off and said simply, “Sir, you can’t come in here.” Postema gave the necessary assurances and we had a quick chat with Jacqueline Beaudry, who said that people standing in the line winding around the hallway were taking 30 minutes to an hour (as of 11:30 a.m.) to make their way to the window for in-person absentee voting registration, which ends at 4 p.m. – two or three hours from now depending on when this piece get edited. Beaudry stressed that ballots obtained today must also be voted today.
Postema seemed to know everyone standing in the line on the second floor of the Larcom Building. But he said that he knew only half of them. Among them was the new legal counsel for the University of Michigan, Suellyn Scarnecchia – they went to high school together.
On Election Day, Postema’s staffs’ assignments include Mary Fales on the second floor of the Larcom Building at the city clerk’s election central, plus Abigail Elias holding down the fort at the city attorney’s office on the third floor. Other attorneys will be distributed throughout the city.
But Postema himself – along with The Chronicle – will be visiting as many of the 40-some polling places as time allows. And he’ll be able to talk on either of his two phones hands-free, thanks to driving services provided by the 16-year-old Postema twins, Jake and Tess. They’re not taking the day off school – there is no school tomorrow. Ann Arbor Public Schools called off school in anticipation of huge election turnouts. That will mean more space available for moving voters through the voting process with less waiting.
We’ll try to file updates throughout the day tomorrow as we visit the precincts. Have a good vote.