Election Day: August 7, 2012

The Chronicle tours Ann Arbor polling stations

As we have for the past few years, The Chronicle will be touring Ann Arbor polling stations and providing updates throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Parking sign in front of Mary Street polling station

The permanent parking sign in front of Ann Arbor’s Mary Street polling station – for voters in Ward 4, Precinct 2 – reflects the building’s long-time use on election days.

This year, Ann Arbor city council seats have contested Democratic primaries in four of the five wards – but in Ward 3, incumbent Christopher Taylor is unopposed. There are no contested Republican primaries.

The four-way non-partisan race for 22nd circuit court judge is also on the ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the November election.

Some Ann Arbor residents also get to vote in a contested Democratic primary for Washtenaw County commissioner in District 7, as well as for the county’s water resources commissioner.

For all of you procrastinators who are still researching the candidates, here’s a link to Chronicle coverage of the local races for Ann Arbor city council, District 7 county commissioner, county water resources commissioner, and 22nd circuit court judge.

Not sure where to vote? To find your polling place and view a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Check back here throughout the day for briefs filed from the field, or add a comment with your own election day observations.

7:10 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach School, 600 W. Jefferson St.): I am voter number 2. Campaign reps are not yet in place when I enter, but on exiting a group of three is standing at the 100-foot limit with their candidate’s lit. Alex is encouraging people to vote for Carol Kuhnke for 22nd circuit court judge, and Steph is ready to hand people a brochure for Erane Washington, also for 22nd circuit court judge. John Katarski, an Ann Arbor public art commissioner, is campaigning for Ward 5 council candidate Chuck Warpehoski.

As we chat, Evan Pratt arrives and leaves after planting his campaign yard sign with the others that are already there. Pratt is running for water resources commissioner. Former planning commissioner Erica Briggs rolls up on her bicycle headed towards the polls.

7:25 a.m. Ward 1, Precincts 5-6 (Northside School, 912 Barton Drive): Carol Kuhnke, candidate for 22nd circuit court judge, comes out of the school after voting. She shows me a photo on her iPhone of her completed ballot – yes, she voted for herself. Phillis Engelbert, co-owner of the Lunch Room at Mark’s Carts, is here too – her son attended this school. The Lunch Room is running an election day special: Wear your “I Voted” sticker and get a free cookie. “We’d be happy to give away a lot of cookies,” she says. Inside, about 20 voters have passed through so far. There’s some discussion among poll workers about bathrooms – a moment of panic upon discovery that the staff bathroom was locked. Smaller kid-sized toilets will have to suffice.

8:10 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 9 and Ward 2, Precinct 6 (Clague Middle School, 2616 Nixon Rd.): Mike Woodyard, a candidate for 22nd circuit court, is greeting folks in the parking lot after they voted. He’s not on the ballot until November, but is laying the groundwork for that election against incumbent Tim Connors. There are six other candidate reps handing out literature for Evan Pratt, John Dingell, Andy LaBarre, Christina Montague and Erane Washington. The volunteer for Pratt’s campaign is also giving out  candy.

Inside the school gym, poll workers for each precinct report about 18 voters have come through so far. The main issue has been spoiled ballots – you can vote for either Democrat or Republican candidates, not both. Several people have had to vote again after their first ballots were rejected by the scanner.

8:35 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 9 (Thurston School, 2300 Prairie St.): It’s been slow – about 20 voters in the first 90 minutes. Poll workers are happy that this year they’re set up in an air-conditioned computer lab. The 2011 August primary was located in the school’s multi-purpose room with no AC, and it was stifling.

8:53 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 8 (Skyline High School, 2552 N. Maple Rd.): “Is it time for lunch, yet?” asks one poll worker. It is not. They’re on voter number 28. Outside, the Skyline football coach instructs players that when they come inside from practice for snacks, they should use doors on the side so as not to conflict with activity at the polls. Campaigns for Carol Kuhnke and Doug McClure for judge are represented in person. Dan Smith’s sign for county commissioner draws from a color palette that’s unlike most of the other signs – light orange and black. It’s agreed they “stand out.”

It’s slow enough going inside that poll workers are now processing absentee voter ballots. Precinct delegates are on the ballot for this election, so all the ballots get processed at the precinct level. There won’t be any separate absent voter count boards that cut across entire wards.

9 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 7 (King School, 3800 Waldenwood Lane): Three dozen people have voted. Poll workers have started counting the 185 or so absentee ballots from their precinct. One worker thought there would be closer to 300 – could be a sign of a lower-than-normal turnout. A voter’s ballot is rejected – turns out he voted for two 22nd circuit court candidates, not just one, as the ballot indicates. There’s some confusion about that, as the top two vote-getters in that four-way race will advance to the Nov. 6 election. But you can only vote for one of them.

9:18 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 10 (Abbot School, 2670 Sequoia Parkway): Joel Batterman outside campaigning for Chuck Warpehoski for Ward 5 city council. First two people approaching the building were not there to vote – as one was an employee at the school. The other woman, with a kid, responds to Batterman’s query about whether she’s voting elsewhere – by saying she’s not even sure what’s on the ballot.

9:35 a.m. Ward 3, Precincts 6 and 9 (Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine St.): Andy LaBarre, a candidate for District 7 county commissioner, is outside this Ward 3 polling station in his campaign’s distinctive green T-shirt. However, he’s somewhat upstaged by a representative of his opponent, Christina Montague, who is holding a cute baby girl. Inside, about three dozen people have voted at Precinct 9, but only two dozen at Precinct 6, which is set up across the gym. Despite fewer votes, one Precinct 6 poll worker jokes that “we’re more charming.”

A mother is voting with her two kids, and explains each step in the process. She is initially uncertain which precinct she lives in – a poll worker tells her it’s best to keep that information in mind before the Nov. 6 election, when it will likely be much busier because of the presidential race.

10:23 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 4 and 5 (Slauson Middle School, 1019 W. Washington St.): Outside, a young woman campaigning for Carol Kuhnke reflects on her Kuhnke for Judge T-shirt and her intention to vote later. She’ll need to cover up the campaign message before entering the polling place. Wonders if it would suffice to turn it inside out.

Inside Jim Rees has just voted. He notes that he attended Slauson as a kid. The school still has the same bike racks as when he attended. A voter remarks to a poll worker that he’s glad election day is here – because he can now get the campaign signs out of the yard.

Poll workers engage in some “pro-active education” for voters who are receiving their ballots.

10:40 a.m. Ward 3, Precincts 4 and 7 (Allen School, 2560 Towner Blvd.): The only campaign volunteer on site is a rep  for Christina Montague, who exuberantly states that she hoped this would reflect the election outcome. A few minutes later volunteers for Andy LaBarre – including his wife Megan – return from a bathroom break. LaBarre and Montague are competing in the Democratic primary for District 7 county commissioner. It’s the only primary being contested for the county board.

Inside the school, Precinct 7 reports 61 voters so far, compared to 47 in Precinct 4. Peter Schermerhorn, a former Green Party candidate, is Precinct 7 chair and recalls a more dramatic primary in 2010, when he was at Scarlett Middle School during a tornado warning. To his surprise, he learned that there are no emergency shelters in the schools. The weather outlook today is considerably calmer.

10:57 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 11 (Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd.): Adam Zemke outside campaigning. He’s running for the Democratic nomination for 55th District state representative, along with Andrea Brown-Harrison. Voter departs precinct by telling poll worker: “Thanks for all the good work you folks do.” Spoiled ballots are a theme here, as in other precincts, as voters inadvertently try to vote both sides of the ballot. Procedure for spoiling ballot includes folding the ballot in half and inserting it into an envelope. They’re on voter 144. The observation “It’s a perfect square!” gets a laugh – so this is an easy crowd.

Poll worker notes that people seem more comfortable this time around getting their driver’s license scanned as a part of the electronic poll book record-keeping process. He was part of the pilot for the spring election, where EPBs were used in a limited number of precincts.

11:51 Ward 1, Precinct 4 (Community Center, 625 N. Main St.): Poll worker reading a book called “Leaky Boots” to pass the time. They’re on voter 42. Noon-time rush is not materializing. After five minutes of dead silence, no voters in the polling place, a voter arrives. Stop watch started. Thoughts: What if voting were an Olympic event? How would it be scored? Butterfly ballot, butterfly stroke. Four minutes 12 seconds measured from arrival at the door to crossing threshold on the way out. If she had not paused to peel the back off the “I voted” sticker and throw it away, she could have gone under four minutes. Not sure if that’d be a ward record.

12:45 p.m. Ward 4, Precincts 4 and 8 (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.): Daniel Marcin, a Democrat who’s challenging incumbent John Dingell for the District 12 U.S. House of Representatives seat, is one of only two people handing out campaign literature outside of Pioneer. The other is Margaret Connors, wife of incumbent 22nd circuit court judge Tim Connors – though he’s not on the ballot until Nov. 6. Margaret Connors, shading herself from the sun with a colorful umbrella, is supporting Carol Kuhnke in the other four-way judicial race for 22nd circuit court.

Signs point to the polling station for two Ward 4 precincts, located inside Pioneer’s BIG gym. In Precinct 4, 95 votes have been cast, compared to 45 in Precinct 8. It’s slow.

Outside, Marcin notes that he has replanted a Dingell sign that had fallen over, and Connors had done the same with a sign for Doug McClure, one of the candidates running against Kuhnke. There are no sign shenanigans here.

1:06 p.m. Ward 2, Precincts 3 and 4 (Angell School, 1608 S. University Ave.): Ward 2 city council candidate Sally Petersen and District 7 Washtenaw County commissioner candidate Andy LaBarre are chatting outside the polls as I roll up. Petersen is running against Tony Derezinski and LaBarre is running against Christina Montague. All are Democrats. Rebekah Warren is also here. She represents the 18th District in the Michigan Senate (which includes Ann Arbor) and does not need to run for re-election this year – so she’s here to help support LaBarre. Warren and Petersen introduce themselves to each other. Warren is married to Conan Smith, who is chair of the county board of commissioners but is not challenged in the Democratic primary.

Conversation turns to sports – lacrosse, marathoning … ice hockey. Petersen didn’t include college ice hockey in her campaign bio, but could have.

1:10 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 9 (Lawton School, 2550 S. Seventh St.): One lone candidate rep is here – a volunteer for Carol Kuhnke’s campaign, standing in a patch of shade near the street. There have been 96 voters, not counting absentee ballots. A steady stream, but no lunchtime rush.

Carl Ent arrives. The former city police chief, who now works for the Bank of Ann Arbor, has no one ahead of him in line and dispatches with his civic duty quickly.

2:05 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 7 and Ward 5, Precinct 7 (Dicken School, 2135 Runnymede Blvd.): There’s a significant size difference between these two precincts – which fall in different wards – and that’s reflected in the number of votes cast so far: 29 for Ward 5, and 184 for Ward 4, not including absentee ballots. One poll worker is knitting a lovely purple scarf.

Almost universally, poll workers are geeked about the new computerized poll books. One jokingly strokes the laptop and says: “We love the new box.” He then describes working the polls 30 years ago, when the large metal voting booths – with the curtains and analog levers – would have to be rolled in. One time a booth rolled over his foot and broke two toes, he recalls, so “I was glad to see those things scrapped.”

There’s a mini-rush of four voters. It’s their first encounter with the new system, which scans your driver’s license to pull up your voter information. While it’s way more efficient for poll workers, one voter offers a different view: “It’s a little creepy.”

This is the only polling station I’ve visited today where there were no volunteers from any campaigns handing out literature.

5:05 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach School, 600 W. Jefferson St.): Artist David Zinn is outside the school talking to the only campaign worker in sight – Bryan Weinert, the city’s former solid waste coordinator who’s handing out literature for Chuck Warpehoski. Soon another former city staffer walks up: Betsy Lindsley, retired executive director of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, who’s precinct chair here. She’s back from a dinner break, with a bag from McDonald’s.

Inside, they’ve topped 200 voters, with 213 tabulated and another five or so waiting to vote.

5:30 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 6 (Eberwhite School, 800 Soule Blvd.): Of the roughly 1,500 registered voters in this precinct, 215 people have voted so far – that includes some of the absentee ballots. A poll worker expects whatever rush they might get to happen between 6-7 p.m.

Outside, there are no campaign workers but plenty of signs, including some for Republican races – Stuart Berry, who’s running unopposed in the Ward 5 city council primary, and for the two Republican candidates in the primary for District 12 U.S. Representative: Cynthia Kallgren and Karen Jacobsen.

5:50 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 1 (Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.): This precinct hasn’t topped 50 voters yet. With just over two hours left until the polls close, they’re at 47 votes, out of the nearly 1,300 registered voters in this precinct. Fred Beal of JC Beal Construction is on his way out, while a few minutes later sports columnist and raconteur John U. Bacon arrives. Only one of them was wearing a tie.

This precinct has the most distinctive display of the American flag, in two ways. Because they can’t affix it to the walls here in the library’s lower level, it’s draped artfully over a chair and placed under a light that acts as a spotlight behind the voting booths. The second visible flag is worn on the T-shirt of one of the poll workers – instead of stars, this flag is spangled with small corporate logos.

6:05 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2 (Mary St. Polling Place, 926 Mary St.): We wrap up this poll crawl with the city’s most distinctive polling station, featured in the photo at the beginning of this report. We’re greeted by poll workers who said they’ve been waiting all day for the two reporters who’ve visited them previously: from Al Jazeera and The Chronicle. It looks like The Chronicle will be the only repeat visitor.

Only 16 voters have walked through the door of this small ivy-covered building, which normally houses the Bird Center of Washtenaw. That alternative use had been highlighted earlier in the day, when FedEx delivered three large boxes of worms.

About an hour of voting time remain until the polls close at 8 p.m., but The Chronicle is packing it in until results start rolling in. We urge readers who haven’t already voted to get out and do so, and to check back with us later tonight for information on election outcomes. They’ll be published initially in the Civic News Ticker section of the website.

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  1. August 7, 2012 at 10:31 am | permalink

    I’m impressed to see so many candidate representatives campaigning at the polls. This is unusual for August. At least *they* care about the election. 8-)

  2. August 7, 2012 at 10:39 am | permalink

    I was pleased to run into Chronicle editor Dave Askins at the Slauson polling site.

    There was a sign in front of the school directing people to the side door for voting. Sometimes the sign is missing and voters end up wandering the halls.

    No more voter books, it’s computerized now. I wonder if this will make ballot stuffing easier. New applications too, which now ask if you’re a citizen. I don’t see the point of that. If you’re not a citizen you won’t be on the list, right?

  3. August 7, 2012 at 11:11 am | permalink

    I was voter #35 at 11:00 at precinct 1-6 (Northside School). This total includes the absentee ballots for the precinct, which had already been fed in.

    For a minute or so there was even a line at the check-in tables.

  4. By James D'Amour
    August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am | permalink

    I was voter #60 at precinct 3-8 (Pittsfield Elementary). A campaign volunteer for Andy LaBarre and one for Christina Montague were parked just outside 100 foot zone next to each other. Seemed very cordial and pleasant to each other but told them no fistfights in any rate :) They laughed.

  5. August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am | permalink

    I voted using the “Automark” machine at the Coliseum (4-3). No problems with the machine, and it properly prompted me to mark both sides of the ballot. I resisted the temptation to do a write-in vote, but if I had, it looks like it would have typed out the name neatly for me.

  6. By Eleanor Pollack
    August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm | permalink

    It’s apparently fairly simple to vote if you don’t have your photo ID/drivers license with you. Mine didn’t make it back in my wallet after kayaking yesterday. No problem ~ just signed the affidavit on the reverse side of the registration form. I did offer to walk home and get it…

  7. By Mark Koroi
    August 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm | permalink

    Good to see judicial candidate Michael Woodyard campaigning at the polls. Many are hoping he will be replacing Timothy Connors on the circuit court bench.

    Also good to see Adam Zemke campaigning at the polls. He is a young engineer whose family has resided locally for many generations.

    Good luck to both excellent candidates.

  8. August 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm | permalink

    In regards to Ward 5, Precinct 11: not only is 144 a perfect square, but it is also the product of two perfect squares. That is why it’s my favorite number.

  9. August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm | permalink

    I voted in 1-4 at about 1:05 and was number 51. So according to this timeline, less than 10 people voted there during the lunch hour.
    Come on people–folks died for this right…get out there and vote! You even get a cool sticker for Pete’s sake!

  10. August 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm | permalink

    Anyone know when we will start getting information about results in the races?

  11. August 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | permalink

    Ben, there will be results published here: [link]

  12. By Lois Mayfield
    August 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm | permalink

    Just returned from Forsythe (Ann Arbor, 5 – 11) and they have had over 200 voters.

  13. By Linda Diane Feldt
    August 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm | permalink

    Voter 195 at Bach School at about 4:20. The election workers were in good spirits.

  14. August 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | permalink

    Re: [10] When results are available.

    Short answer: I’d guess about an hour after polls close.

    Longer answer: Polls close at 8 p.m. The “unofficial” results get posted on the Washtenaw County clerk’s election results website reasonably quickly after they’re physically turned in to the clerk’s office – but the time lag between implementing the shutdown procedure at the precinct and submitting the information to the clerk’s office probably means that final complete results for countywide race like the judicial contest won’t be available there for at least a couple hours. They do load them incrementally, though, so as the results get turned in, they load them right on up to the website.

    Faster preliminary results are usually obtained by different campaigns by having someone on the ground at each precinct to report in results to campaign headquarters from the voting machine paper tapes. (They resemble cash register receipts.) You don’t need to be affiliated with a campaign or some publication to wait in the public area at a precinct where the result tapes are posted and look at them. So if you want to be the first to know how things turned out in a particular precinct, go there at 8 p.m. and wait – just make sure you stay in the the public area and don’t get in the poll workers’ way – physically or verbally.

    When I’ve watched poll workers shut down the polls, I’ve noticed that they really are focused on following the steps, doing the various cross checks, pausing and rechecking when something doesn’t seem right – so they’re goal is not to be fast, but rather accurate. Still, if things go reasonably smoothly a precinct can get shut down and result tapes generated in 20-30 minutes. For at least some precincts, it inevitably won’t go perfectly smooth. I’d expect that campaigns will start to have an idea of how they did starting in the window between 8:30-9 p.m.

    We’ll try to share preliminary results as soon as we have something sensible to report. We’ll be monitoring results with a couple of different campaigns. If readers want to venture out to the precinct they voted at 8 p.m. and share the results right here in this comment thread, that would be welcome. One year we attempted something more organized involving a shared Google spreadsheet, and experienced mixed results. Ultimately we’re talking about the difference of a couple hours – and the marginal benefit to eking out that half-hour earlier report doesn’t seem like an efficient allocation of resources.

    Note that the absentee ballots are counted at the precincts this time around – because precinct delegates are on the ballot. When they’re counted as a separate batch across an entire ward, you can get a decent read on an entire ward based just on the absentees – but not for today’s election.

  15. August 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm | permalink

    Ben: Wouldn’t that be true of any square whose root has at least two prime factors?

  16. By Mary Morgan
    August 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm | permalink

    Bonnie Valentine sent us this report after voting at Thurston Elementary School (Ward 2, Precinct 9). As of 6:10 p.m., there were 250 in person ballots and 72 absent ballots.

    She writes: “We were greeted by Ms Christina Montague herself in the parking lot. She expressed her cross-party lines and is looking to bring more public input into the larger decisions being made in our city. Furthermore, she described herself as a fiscal conservative who supports families.”

  17. August 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm | permalink

    This new computer system was causing quite a backup in my precinct when I voted around 7:15 p.m. They will need to quadruple the number of computers at least if they want to keep up in November. Who pays for those computers, or other changes in voting systems, by the way?

  18. August 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm | permalink

    Iacta alea est. The polls are closed.

  19. By Tom Whitaker
    August 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm | permalink

    Tape printing problem at 5-1.

  20. August 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm | permalink

    Sylvan Twp unofficial results are in; their millage vote passed by seven votes, 480-473.


  21. By Chai
    August 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm | permalink

    I was the 72nd voter in my precinct, ward 4 (@at the Church/Temple on Packard). Two others walked in at the same time as me (around 3pm) and the workers there said it was a rush, the most people they’d had at one time together! Dang. So, that’s like, literally, one every six and a half minutes, huh?

  22. By Rod Johnson
    August 8, 2012 at 11:52 am | permalink

    Jim: yes–16, 36, 64, 100, etc. all have that property, for example.