Election Day: November 2011

A view from the polls throughout the city of Ann Arbor

It’s Election Day. Voters in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district have a choice of six candidates to fill two open seats on the AAPS board of trustees. And Ann Arbor city residents in four of five wards will have a choice about their representation on the 11-member city council.

Sign at Angell Elementary School

A sign directing voters at Angell Elementary School, where two precincts for Ann Arbor's Ward 2 are located. As of 7:05 a.m., five voters had arrived. It's unlikely the one-voter-per-minute pace will continue, but poll workers expect a higher turnout than the 68 people who voted here in the August primary.

If you’re still researching the candidates for the school board or for the city council, check out Chronicle coverage of the candidate forums.

City of Ann Arbor voters will also be presented with three ballot proposals, two of them involving approval of taxes for street and sidewalk repair. Proposal 1 would renew an existing street repair property tax at a rate of 2 mills. [A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of a property's taxable value.] Assuming Proposal 1 is approved, Proposal 2 would levy an additional 0.125 mills – for sidewalk repair. If Proposal 2 is approved by voters, the city would not start a new 5-year inspection cycle. Under that inspection program, property owners are formally notified that sidewalks adjacent to their property need repair and then must undertake those repairs themselves.

Attitudes of city council challengers towards the sidewalk millage are negative. Some current city councilmembers have offered only reluctant support for the sidewalk millage or else have a complete lack of a position on the question. Mayor John Hieftje, who is not up for re-election this year, has clearly stated his lack of a position on the sidewalk millage.

Proposal 3 is less controversial, enjoying solid support among councilmembers and challengers. It would change the makeup of the retirement system’s board of trustees so that fewer beneficiaries of the system are included on the board.

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. A good place to get partial unofficial results (that are as close to official as you can get) is the Washtenaw County clerk’s office election results website.

To find your polling place, type in an address on the My Property page of the city of Ann Arbor’s website, and click on the Voter tab.

The Chronicle has established somewhat of an Election Day tradition: We tour as many precinct locations as we can through the day and file mini-reports from the polls. So we’re off – check back throughout the day for updates, appended after the jump. Add your own observations from the polls in the comments.

7:35 a.m. Ward 3, Precinct 3 (Tappan Middle School, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd.): So far 12 voters have passed through – including two who were waiting outside when the polls opened at 7 a.m. That’s a brisker pace than the August primary, which averaged about 15 voters per hour, according to the precinct chair. But now, there’s only one voter in the school cafeteria, where the polling place is located. She was allowed to bring in her dog, since there was no one else around to possibly disturb. The dog, Kiley, seemed somewhat disinterested in exercising its democratic rights.

8:07 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 3 (Community High School, 401 N. Division): Among the other standard signs planted in the lawn is a handwritten campaign sign for Larry Murphy, in child’s handwriting. It invites people to “Vote for my dad.” Claire Dahl, precinct captain, says that voting in person is “good for your soul.” Two people have voted so far. A third arrives. Small talk among poll workers includes weather (“Is it still raining outside?”) and the merits of lining baking pans with parchment paper versus aluminum foil.

8:15 a.m. Ward 3, Precinct 4 & Ward 3 Precinct 7 (Allen School, 2560 Towner Blvd.): Continuing a trend spotted at Tappan, a voter brought his dog along to the polls – Daphne is watching other voters enter the school as her owner reviews a sample ballot before going in to cast his vote. About three dozen voters have showed up during the first hour – one of the more recent voters to pass through is former city councilmember Leigh Greden.

8:37 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 9 (Thurston School, 2300 Prairie St.): Sign in the elementary school hallway leading to cafeteria, where polls are set up, admonishes that directions given by adults are to be followed the first time they’re given. Voter nearly leaves without receiving “I Voted” sticker. As the 8:45 bell goes off (wonder if that’s recess already?) 50 voters have cast their ballots here. Standard election inspector joke: “You can vote at any booth you like, except one that someone’s already standing in.” Election inspectors experiment with turning off the lights to save energy, but decide that it leaves things too dim for voters to read their ballots.

8:40 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 5 (St. Clare Church/Temple Beth Emeth 2309 Packard St.): No voters are here – it’s been slow, poll workers say, with 21 voters so far. They expect it will pick up later in the day, when people get off work. One worker points out that this precinct, which includes a stretch of South Industrial, covers a large section that’s not residential. To kill time, one poll worker is knitting a scarf. “It’s boring,” she says, describing the relative challenge of her handiwork. The same description likely applies to the roughly 11 hours left until polls close at 8 p.m., unless turnout improves.

9:19 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 9 & Ward 2, Precinct 6 (Clague Middle School, 2616 Nixon Rd.): Before leaving Thurston, overheard arriving voter say he’d initially gone to the wrong precinct – Clague Middle School, which is just behind the street where he lives. On Praire Street, between Thurston and Clague, about a dozen signs for Rapundalo, zero for Lumm. Not surprising, given that it’s Rapundalo’s home turf. Woman with dog responds to query about whether it’s registered to vote with a deadpan: “No. But she is very interested in sidewalks.” The woman departed before it was properly parsed as a joke (which it clearly was … sidewalk repair millage …). At this combined precinct location, 122 people have voted so far.

Car tow at Mary Street polling place

A tow truck driver hooks up an illegally parked car in front of the Mary Street polling place in Ann Arbor. Three spaces are reserved for voters on election day, and three cars parked in those spots had been ticketed after receiving warning notices over the past few days.

9:35 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2 (Mary St. Polling Place, 926 Mary St.): Two tow trucks are on site – three cars have been parked in the spaces reserved for voters in front of this polling location. Multiple warning notices over the past few days are evidenced by soggy green, yellow and red flyers stuck under the vehicles’ windshield wipers. One young woman walks up just as the tow truck driver has hooked up her Jeep. She gets her vehicle, but has to pay the ticket and a hook-up charge – still, it’s less than the impoundment fee. There’s far less action inside the polling station, where three people had voted so far out of the 840 registered voters in this precinct. The place smells like bleach. Normally it’s used by the Bird Center of Washtenaw County, and is scrubbed down by the center’s volunteers before election day. This small building is the only remaining city polling place that’s still in use for its original purpose.

10:04 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 8 (St. Paul’s Lutheran School, 495 Earhart Rd.): Retracing route along Prairie Street southward from Clague, two Lumm signs spotted – how were they missed on the way north? Here at St. Paul’s, Ren Farley invites a voter to “feed the monster” – insert the ballot into the machine. So far, there have been 76 voters.

10:29 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 7 (King School, 3800 Waldenwood Ln): So far 84 people have voted. Election inspector volunteers that there are 2,260 registered voters in his precinct – she’d looked it up for someone earlier, not that she carries that information around in her head. Signs are being added inside the school building for people who wander in through an entrance that was anticipated to be locked. Child care that’s being offered resulted in that door being unlocked. Poll worker comments on the durability of his phone, which will stand up to being dropped off a roof.

11:04 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 1 (Northwood Community Center, Family Housing, 1000 McIntyre Dr.): Discussion between pair of young people in the lounge outside the smallish voting room centers on the rules for Twister. Are there teams? How many can play at a time? Will people naturally laugh while playing? Inside the voting room, nobody is playing Twister. So far 37 people have voted.

11:45 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 5 (Ann Arbor Assembly of God, 2455 Washtenaw Ave.): Minor confusion between mother and son. Responding to him, she insists it doesn’t smell bad in the precinct. He explains that he’d said something about “voting” here, not that it’s “moldy” here. Business is brisk right now. So far 172 people have voted. Woman arrives with three kids and a dog. The canine Coco sits properly and is well behaved. Qualifications for voting are explained to the kids as “you have to be a grownup.” No one takes advantage of that opening to make a joke. Kids all receive stickers. Time it took to vote from start to finish was under five minutes.

1:20 p.m. Ward 1, Precincts 1 & 2 and Ward 4, Precinct 1 (Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.): These two polling stations are by far the best smelling – scent of flavored coffee from Amer’s in the lobby, and warm meat from The University Club. Out of 1,286 registered voters, one person has showed up so far for Ward 4, Precinct 1. Around the corner and down the hall in another room, the combined precincts of Ward 1 have by comparison been super busy – with 13 voters, out of around 4,000 registered. Poll workers note that most students don’t ask to be removed from the registered voter lists after graduating and leaving town.

1:23 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 1 (Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.): Arriving at the bicycle racks, Newcombe Clark – an Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member and Ward 5 independent council candidate one year ago – is spotted. He and a colleague from MyBuys are the 19th and 20th voters at the library. The 21st voter is inside the polling station, which is on the bottom floor of the building. Adorning the walls are pieces from the Michigan Quilt Artist Invitational Exhibit, which runs from through Nov. 29. One of the quilted pieces of art includes this saying: “Wear pearls with your apron, you’re dressed up enough.” Poll workers are organizing their staggered lunch breaks.

Cherry Westerman

Cherry Westerman outside the UM Coliseum polling station.

1:45 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 6 (Eberwhite School, 800 Soule Blvd.): A minor glitch in the voting booth – the pen doesn’t work. Solution was easy – to remove the cap. So far 97 people have voted. Poll workers characterize that tally as “slow.” Small talk among the poll workers includes a side-by-side comparison of travel coffee mug technology. Also: thermostat settings. A strategy by one worker of 65 F during the day and 58 F at night is rejected by another as “too cold.” As temperatures outside the school approach the mid 60s, it’s now slightly cooler inside the gym.

2:10 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 3 (UM Coliseum, Fifth Ave. & Hill St.):  Unlike the August 2010 primary, this polling station is no longer sweltering inside. Poll workers report they’ve had 91 voters, but very few students.

Outside, Cherry Westerman is collecting signatures for a petition drive – the effort is to force a referendum election to repeal Michigan Public Act 4 of 2011, better known as the emergency fund manager act. If successful, it would put the issue on the November 2012 ballot for voters to decide. She’s collected 16 signatures in the 2.5 hours she’s been outside the polling station, which she figures is a fairly high percentage of the voters who’ve passed through. Westerman is a retired teacher – her husband is the first cousin of Scott Westerman, former superintendent for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

2:50 p.m. Ward 4, Precincts 4 & 8 (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.): About 220 people from two Ward 4 precincts have voted in the small gym at Pioneer – a poll worker describes the pace as steady. She still has time for a crossword puzzle, though – she says it’s easier to be interrupted from that than from reading a book. The six doors that serve as entrances to the gym have different words etched in frosted glass above each door. The word over the door that’s open is “team.”

David Zinn sidewalk art

David Zinn sidewalk art.

5:25 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach School, 600 W. Jefferson St.): It’s dusk. A guy is taking photographs of something on the sidewalk, just outside the entrance to the school. That “something” turns out to be sidewalk chalk art, and the “guy” is David Zinn, whose work has been noted previously in The Chronicle.

He hopes to use the photos for his Christmas card, and was working against the threat of rain. Missed an obvious opportunity to ask him what he thought about the sidewalk millage. Inside, the line is four voters deep – about 230 people had come through so far, out of about 2,600 registered voters.

5:50 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 4 & Ward 5, Precinct 5 (Slauson Middle School, 1019 W. Washington): The school parking lot is packed, but it turns out there’s another event going on – not all these vehicles are carrying voters. Inside, the polling station with combined precincts has logged over 525 voters today – a precinct chair estimates that’s about 15-20% of registered voters.

However, she cautions that the percentage is difficult to estimate, because a certain number of registered voters no longer live in this area but are still in the books. The day is winding down as it began, with sprinkling of rain.

That’s it from the polls for today, which are open until 8 p.m. If we have any results to share before they’re posted to the Washtenaw County clerk’s office election results website, we’ll make them available on our Civic News Ticker.

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  1. By Alan Goldsmith
    November 8, 2011 at 8:25 am | permalink

    “Mayor John Hieftje, who is not up for re-election this year, has clearly stated his lack of a position on the sidewalk millage.”

    Profile in courage. Lol.

  2. November 8, 2011 at 8:55 am | permalink

    In your 7:35 report, “disinterested” should be “uninterested.” Tsk, tsk.

  3. November 8, 2011 at 9:05 am | permalink

    Here is part of an e-mail I got last night from one of Jane Lumm’s campaign managers:

    Please join us as we celebrate a great campaign at Paesano’s beginning around 7:30. Election results should come in around 8:30 – 9:00.

  4. By Linda Diane Feldt
    November 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm | permalink

    Voter 121 at 1:20 at Bach School. I should have waited a minute. This turnout really sucks. Given that we have the school board with ballot measures that mean real money – why are people staying home? The school board candidates represent some very different viewpoints. It is important that informed voters make good choices! I just don’t understand not voting. Sorry.

  5. By LisaLou
    November 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm | permalink

    At 1:30 I was the 85th voter in Ward 4, Precinct 5. That was a better pace than the August election, the poll workers told me.

  6. By TJ
    November 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm | permalink

    FYI: An 8:45 bell at Thurston would be start of school, not recess.

  7. By TJ
    November 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm | permalink

    We were at 5-4/5 just before 7. We were voters 631 and 632. We saw 10 people arrive after us. There was a guy outside collecting signatures for the PA4 referendum.

  8. November 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm | permalink

    Iacta alea est. The die is cast. The polls are closed.

  9. November 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm | permalink

    With all but one precinct reporting in the Second Ward, Lumm appears to have beaten Rapundalo, 2000 votes to 1500 votes. Approximately.

    Film at eleven.

  10. By Rod Johnson
    November 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm | permalink

    In the libertarian wilderness that is Scio, where there was only thing on the ballot (the school board), I was 176 at 6:00 (and that was the combined total of two precincts). I suppose it’s just hard to get excited about such a minor election, no matter how important the schools are to a lot of us.

  11. November 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm | permalink

    Sylvan turned down their 4.75 mill millage.

  12. By Mark Koroi
    November 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm | permalink

    Congratulations to Jane Lumm on her landslide victory.

    We could use more Jane Lumms on City Council.

  13. By Rod Johnson
    November 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm | permalink

    Poor Sylvan Township. Talk about lose-lose. What next?