Continuing The Chronicle’s Election Day tradition, we’ll be touring Ann Arbor polling stations and providing updates and observations throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. The city clerk’s office notes that peak hours are typically between 7-10 a.m., with fewer voters during the midday hours.
It’s a long two-sided ballot. In addition to national, state and local races, Ann Arbor has three major ballot questions – all on the ballot’s back side: A parks millage renewal, a proposed new tax for public art, and a $65 million bond proposal for a new downtown library. You’ll also be asked to vote for six state ballot proposals, the University of Michigan regents, several judicial positions, a raft of county offices, and many other races. To view a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website.
If you’re still in the last-minute research mode, here’s a collection of Chronicle election-related articles. You can find a nonpartisan analysis of state ballot proposals on the Citizens Research Council of Michigan website. More information is also available on the League of Women Voters vote411.org website.
Remember that you’ll be asked to show a photo ID to vote. If you don’t have one, poll workers will ask you to sign an affidavit in order to vote. Not sure where to vote? The Secretary of State’s website can help you to find your polling place.
Check back here throughout the day for briefs filed from the field, or add a comment with your own election day observations.
6:50 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach School, 600 W. Jefferson St.): About 30 people have lined up down the hall waiting for the polls to open. A poll worker emerges from the cafeteria and says they’re nearly ready: “Hang in there!” A couple of people are reading paper copies of the New York Times, and several are texting or listening to their iPods. Dan Ezekiel, chair of the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission, lives in the neighborhood and is in line – like a few others, he’s brought a mug of coffee from home. One guy wears a skunk hat. When asked about it, he says “If it’s making a statement, I can’t hear it.”
Outside in this heavily Democratic precinct, two distinctly Republican yard signs are placed at the corner of Fourth and Jefferson – “Fire Obama” and “Romney/Ryan” – but signs for Democratic candidates far outnumber those. The Jefferson Market & Cakery, across from the school, is taking a balanced approach. “Obama” and “Romney” cookies will be available by mid-morning. A woman walking by with her dog asks The Chronicle if a photo ID is required – she’s left hers at home. Anyone who doesn’t have a photo ID will be allowed to vote, but will be asked to sign an affidavit.
7:01 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 4 & 5 (Slauson Middle School 1019 W. Washington) Four years ago the line of voters was at least 200 feet long at this point, stretched from the doors to the sidewalk. This year there’s no line. Steady stream of voters arriving, though. Some aren’t clear if they should be entering on the lower level or the upper level.
7:25 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 1 (Ann Arbor District Library 343 S. Fifth Ave.) The basement room is crowded – maybe 50 people waiting in line or in the process of voting. A poll worker calls out: “Thank you for coming out to vote and thanks for your patience.” David Canter, the former head of Pfizer’s Ann Arbor campus who’s now executive director of the University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), is one of the early voters.
Three people are bundled up outside the library, passing out campaign lit. Margaret Parker, former chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, is drumming up support for the public art millage. A couple approaches but they aren’t interested in voting – they’re looking for directions to the federal building. Two other campaign workers are there to pass out literature in support of state Proposal 6. They tell The Chronicle that they’re from Belleville, and are being paid hourly to sit the polls. They look cold and bored. No sign of people from campaigns supporting or opposed to the library bond proposal.
7:50 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 3 (Community High School 401 N. Division) Soaking up the irony of nickname “Commie High” as a polling place in a democratic election. Folks in line talk about the long complicated ballot. One voter ventures that New Jersey’s ballot is worse than Michigan’s. Asked if it’s required that you vote on every question, precinct worker indicates that no, that’s not required: “Vote for what you know,” she says. There are 10 voting carrels here plus the AutoMark machine. Early rush is over.
With no line, one woman takes at total time of 17 minutes and 41 seconds to vote. Precinct worker listens to challengers from Democratic Party, who explain that their intent is not to challenge the right of people to vote, but rather to ensure that it’s a democratic process. Challengers offer to run errands “if you run short of supplies.” To me, this sounds like an offer to make a donut run. “Did anybody see a green coffee cup?” Cup is immediately located, but there’s minor disagreement about whether it’s green or blue. Small talk includes possibility of hanging chads – no, not here, because it’s done by optical scanning.
8:31 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 4 (Community Center, 625 N. Main St.) Long wait to vote here – people are taking about an hour. Yolanda Whiten, director of the Ann Arbor Community Center, is trying to manage logistics by wrapping the line inside the building as much as possible, but at least a dozen people are in line outside. Whiten says that people inside are complaining that it’s hot and stuffy. Those outside are cold. On average, everybody is fine.
Through the windows of the building Sandi Smith and Linda Lombardini are in line, and use hand signals to indicate they’ve been in line for 30 minutes. Based on bicycles parked outside, seven people in line to vote arrived here on two wheels. Guy with sign hanging around his neck is supporting the Democratic ticket for Michigan Supreme Court. Exit polling being conducted by Edison Research. She says she’s supposed to ask every third person to fill out the form. The only race being queried is for U.S. President. Lots of questions on the survey about demographics and attitudes on the economy.
8:10 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 10 (Arrowwood Hills Community Center 2566 Arrowwood Trl.) The center is full of voters, with a line that snakes outside around the building. There’s maybe a 30-45 minute wait for the 15 or so voting stations. Some people are browsing the sample ballots that are available. There’s a sign taped to a door that states “No kids in closet.” It appears this dictate is being followed. One man is with a small boy who’s wearing a Superman cape.
8:40 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 5 & 6 (Northside School, 912 Barton Dr.) Outside, another Prop 6 hourly worker – they’ve been at all the polls so far. Also handing out campaign lit is local attorney David Cahill. He reports a long line for Precinct 5, but virtually no wait for Precinct 6 – and he’s right. Poll workers speculate that it might be because there are more students in Precinct 6, and they’re likely to vote later in the day. A mix of disgruntled and good-natured folks are in line for Precinct 5. One woman wonders if the precincts have been gerrymandered, to account for the huge difference in voter turnout. Wendy Rampson, the city’s planning manager, is working today as an electronic poll book specialist and stops to chat briefly before leaving to check another polling station.
A woman dressed as Rosie the Riveter votes in Precinct 6. Stopping in the school hallway, she strikes a pose: “Rosie got ‘er done!” In a small world moment, she introduces herself – Cindy Overmyer – and says she’s a Chronicle reader. Then she remembers another connection: She’s a Teeter Talk alum.
8:46 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 1 & 2 and Ward 4, Precinct 1 (Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.) Campaign worker for Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack is outside handing out literature. A sign inside – that’s likely relevant for some student voters in these precincts – advises that if you’ve renewed your driver’s license since the last time you voted, and your address on the license has changed, the voter file has been automatically updated with your correct voting location. A member of the League of Women Voters is wearing a T-shirt with the letters LWV stylized as the Superman logo.
9:25 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 9 and Ward 2, Precinct 6 (Clague Middle School 2616 Nixon Rd.) Campaign workers are out in force here – there are even a couple of candidates: Democrat Adam Zemke, who’s running for state representative in District 55, and Republican Cindy Kallgren, running for U.S. Congress in the new District 12 against incumbent Democrat John Dingell. Campaign volunteers for Jim Fink and Carol Kuhnke joke that they’d be willing to have their picture taken together. The volunteer for Fink is wearing a retro campaign button from when Fink’s grandfather ran for judge decades ago. Kathy Griswold arrives – she’s treasurer for the Protect Our Libraries campaign, which opposes the library bond proposal. And there are a couple of volunteers from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who are doing surveys to see if people had difficulty voting. They’re also offering snacks.
Inside, there are long lines in the gym, but there’s room to fit everyone inside. Like Northside, there’s a big difference in turnout between the two precincts. And again, it’s attributed to student housing versus single-family homes.
9:42 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 2 (Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Ave.) Polling location is marked with usual signs plus chalk on sidewalk outside building. Canvassing well beyond the 100-foot line at this University of Michigan campus location are twins from Ann Arbor, who are both attending the University of Michigan, because neither one wanted to attend MSU. They’re handing out lit for Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack and Washtenaw County 22nd circuit court judge candidate Carol Kuhnke.
An election inspector who’s worked the last three years at this location characterizes voting in the first 10 minutes today as exceeding the number of votes in all previous years combined. A young man inquires whether he can vote in person, using his absentee ballot. Yes, but this requires a call to the city clerk and some additional paperwork. This proves moot when it turns out that his absentee ballot is from Colorado. But he’s registered here, so he votes in person. Some folks who’ve already voted are lingering in a pod inside the room where the precinct is set up. They’re encouraged to head outside the polls by former city councilmember Joan Lowenstein, who’s working the polls.
Outside the voting room, a poll challenger with the Republican Party is on the phone with his state level organization. He’d been told by poll workers, who’ve consulted with the city attorney, that he can’t use the Romney ORCA app for his smartphone – which allows tracking of activity at the polls. The explanation he’s been given is that no electronic devices are allowed inside the polls. He’s asking for confirmation of that. On a related note, Verizon has poor coverage here and it was necessary to switch to the University of Michigan guest access wireless to file from this location.
10:10 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 9 (Thurston School, 2300 Prairie St.) People are waiting about 30 minutes to vote here, but the line doesn’t go outside and is moving steadily. In a twist, it’s voters (in line), not poll workers who are reading books. Usually, the opposite is true during elections when far fewer voters turn out and poll workers fill their time reading, chatting, knitting and such.
One man exits, declaring: “I mostly voted for women!” Only one campaign worker is here handing out lit: for three women running for Michigan Supreme Court (Connie Kelley, Sheila Johnson and Bridget McCormack), and one woman running for the 22nd Circuit Court (Carol Kuhnke).
10:35 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 3 & 4 (Angell School, 1608 S. University) Outside the building a canvasser for Prop 6 has left his sign and gloves unattended – but he’s just on a short break and returns. An Organizing for America volunteer is circulating outside the polls looking up voter registration on her tablet and providing general informational assistance. Young woman arrives and wonders aloud, “I wonder if it matters if I’m actually registered or not.” (Answer: Yes, the precinct workers are trained to think that matters.) A different woman observes the shorter line and expresses relief – because she’d been here at 7:02 and the line was long enough that she wasn’t willing to wait. Precinct worker says it was all the way down the hall and out the door.
At this dual precinct location, the opening question is, “What precinct are you?” The most frequent answer is “I don’t know,” followed by “I have no idea.” One response: “Precinct?” One young man appears and asks if he can register now, or if you have to register “in advance.” He’s disappointed at the answer as he turns around and heads out the door. Two young women return to the polling place and ask if they can re-enter to obtain their “I voted!” stickers. They are allowed to collect the stickers. Bicyclist finishes voting – and his choice of footwear is wingtips.
10:50 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 8 (St. Paul Lutheran School 495 Earhart Rd.) A shuttle bus is parked outside for residents of Glacier Hills retirement community. Inside, one woman is taken aback by the line – “I’ve never voted when anyone else has been here!” Poll workers are trying to expedite by explaining the ballot to people who are waiting to vote, clarifying how to vote a straight-party ticket and giving reminders that there are also nonpartisan elections and ballot questions. A man emerges from the room after voting and declares: “It wasn’t that bad!” Among the voters spotted this morning at this precinct include the ever-dapper Lester Monts, UM’s senior vice provost for academic affairs.
11:40 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 4 & 8 (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.) Before leaving Angell School but after gear was packed, observed a voter looking at the precinct map for 2-4 and noting that it resembled George Washington’s head. Looking forward to future claims of 2-4 as most patriotic precinct.
Here at Pioneer High School, candidate for 22nd circuit court judge Jim Fink is handing out literature and engaged in long conversation with two young people. He’s running against Carol Kuhnke for the non-incumbent spot on the bench. In the incumbent race for 22nd circuit court judge, Tim Connors has a volunteer on site. His opponent Mike Woodyard has a three-sign configuration: two landscape-oriented signs flanking a vertical sign with a small American flag affixed to the top. That configuration has also been placed at most of the other precincts visited so far. Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack’s giant sign is embellished with a precinct-specific hand-written note: “Pioneer Mom.” Volunteers are wrangling the sign because it keeps blowing over. The gym is full of people. Poll worker is on the phone with clerk’s office asking for more pens when additional voting booths are delivered later in the day.
12:22 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 6 (Eberwhite School, 800 Soule Blvd.) Canvasser for Prop 3 (25/25 clean energy) is handing out lit and asks an approaching voter, “Can I give you one of these?” “No, I’ve already decided.” Canvasser reports that only one person has engaged him in opposition to the proposal – a self-identified Republican he spoke with for about 15 minutes. It’s quiet here now, with no line, though almost 500 people have voted so far. Poll worker small talk turns to whether anybody brought a book. One observes that it’s a nice neighborhood for a walk.
A ballot is mis-marked, and the voter is asked to fold it in half and place it in an envelope for spoiled ballots. On stage is a large cardboard castle with what looks to be a set for an upcoming theatrical production. Sign says: “The Grand Loch Ness.” In the corner of the gymnasium is Nessie – about eight feet tall, three horns, and lots of glitter. A young tyke who’s accompanying her parents laments her lack of access to the polls: “But I wanted to vote with you guys!” It turns out that an “I voted!” sticker can also work as a belly-button coverup.
1:10 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2 (Mary St. Polling Place 926 Mary St.) So far 271 voters have cast their ballots, and election inspector Tom Bletcher expects that number might double by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. If that happens, it would likely break the record number of votes cast here in 2008, he said.
This historic polling station – which houses a bird rescue operation on other days – is one of the city’s quirkiest places to vote, and today it lives up to that reputation. A handwritten sign on the door asks visitors to “please totally ignore” a black dog with a white tail, if they spot it. The stray has been eluding capture for over a year, though a home has been identified for it. There’s a cage next to the building with a bowl of food awaiting. Bletcher says the dog has appeared throughout the day, but there’s no sign of it now.
The only campaign volunteers in sight are working for the Michigan Supreme Court candidates Kelley, Johnson and McCormack – they bookend the sidewalks on either side of the polling station, just past the 100-foot marker. Aside from paid hourly workers handing out pro-Prop 6 lit, McCormack has the strongest showing of volunteers at the polls today.
2:05 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 6 & 9 (Scarlett Middle School 3300 Lorraine St.) With about 60 people, the line for Precinct 6 is three times longer than the one for Precinct 9. A couple walks in and isn’t sure which precinct they live in. When they look at a map and discover it’s Precinct 6, the woman sighs – that’s the longer line. City planning manager Wendy Rampson is here helping out at Precinct 6. Outside, again the only people handing out campaign lit are for Prop 6 and McCormack & Co.
2:44 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 8 (Lakewood School, 344 Gralake Ave.) Outside, the lone representative of a campaign is working on behalf of the Michigan Education Association in support of state Prop 2 (collective bargaining). Total numbers are light here – today and traditionally. Poll workers report that all has gone smoothly. One minor glitch with the electronic poll book was quickly resolved.
Standard poll worker instructions at this precinct for filling out the application includes admonishment to fill out the form completely –with “Ann Arbor” not A2, because while that’s fine for casual use locally, it’s not okay for federal elections. Also, “don’t vote for too many judges” is the chosen phrasing to encourage mindfulness about the number of candidates you can vote for in each race. City environmental coordinator Matt Naud appears – he’s here to vote.
Polling place here in the gym. Mascot on the wall is for the Lakewood Lizards. Two of four basketball rims are set at two feet lower than regulation. No one is yielding to any temptation to dunk.
2:30 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 8 (Pittsfield School, 2543 Pittsfield Blvd.) Another long line winding through the halls of this elementary school. Sarah Prince, a former Ann Arbor News staffer, reports that she’s been waiting about 20 minutes. It takes her another five minutes to make it to the front of the line. People generally seem to be adhering to the school’s slogan, “Positively Pittsfield.”
2:54 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 6 (Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard St.) Really busy here – looks like over 100 people. Voting takes place in the “barn,” and its unique configuration makes the line flow challenging. The upper level in the main room is used as a kind of staging area. Every few minutes a poll worker will shout “Five from upstairs!” and five people will come down to get in the main line. This strategy is effective in preventing the line from going outside into the cold. Reports are that it’s taking about an hour to get through. One woman says of the turnout: “I didn’t know this many people lived in my precinct.”
Outside behind the barn, the weekly Tuesday farmers market is setting up early – its normal hours are from 4-7 p.m. There are tons of campaign signs but no campaign workers in sight. However, a woman is enthusiastically handing out flyers for the market and telling potential customers that they can get a free tea latte from Hut-K Chaats. Other vendors include Darcy’s Carts, Berkshire Farms and Silvio’s Organic Pizza.
3:35 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 10 (Abbot School, 2670 Sequoia Pkwy) On arrival at polling place, I met a Twitter follower in real life. The line, such as it is, is never more than two or three deep and people are moving through briskly. One voter has his ballot rejected by the machine. Diagnosis: “You over-voted!” Voter inspects his ballot and quickly identifies his mistake, where he voted for more candidates than allowed in one of the races. He’s sent back to the table where ballots are issued to formally spoil the ballot and get a new one.
Poll worker brings over a chair, as I am sitting on the floor. A slow wit, I miss the opportunity to inject Eastwoodian humor. The sign in the hallway notes that it’s the 50th anniversary year for Abbot Elementary School, first opened on Sept. 6, 1962. Hallway display includes what appears to be a class project: How to Eat Fried Worms.
4:15 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 11 (Forsythe Middle School 1655 Newport Rd.) Before leaving Abbot, I encountered Jim Fink, again, who’s contesting the non-incumbent 22nd Circuit Court judge position against Carol Kuhnke. Exchanged standard who’s-stalking-who banter.
Here at Forsythe the line is about 45 people deep, including those who are filling out applications. Based on processing time for five people, it looks like they’re moving along at about 35 seconds per person. Good fodder for the next Municipal Math column. Poll workers are wrapping the line now so that it doesn’t go out the door. Long rows of chairs are set up – apparently in case the line gets longer, and based on bits and snatches of conversation it seems it was longer earlier in the day. Local musician Charlie Slick arrives to vote!
3:40 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 5 (St. Clare Church/Temple Beth Emeth 2309 Packard St.) After the throngs at Cobblestone, it’s odd to enter a relatively empty room here. A poll worker reports that about 640 people have voted so far. There’s never been a really long line, but this afternoon people are coming in “dribs and drabs,” she said. It’s expected to pick up after 5 p.m., as people drop by after work.
Adjacent to the polling place, the small St. Frances of Assisi Chapel has an open door and a sign stating that prayers are welcome.
4:05 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 3 (Tappan Middle School 2251 E. Stadium Blvd.) Nearly 950 people have voted here, and the line is about a 30-minute wait. Earlier in the day, I’m told it was as long as an hour and 45 minutes. My second encounter with a greenbelt advisory commission today – Liz Rother is waiting in line to vote. She’s holding a copy of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and points out that book’s author, Rebecca Skloot, will be speaking in Ann Arbor tomorrow night. [According to the event's website, that lecture has been cancelled due to illness, and will be rescheduled.]
Outside, local attorney Kurt Berggren is handing out lit for Carol Kuhnke and Bridget McCormack. As we’re talking, Dave DeVarti and Tim Colenback arrive – not to vote, but to see if the polling location needs additional voting booths. They’re joined by Yousef Rabhi, who’s running for Washtenaw County commissioner in District 8. Berggren makes the clearest sartorial statement of the group, decked out in maize corduroys, blue shoes, a Michigan jacket and a cap with the Schoolkids’ Records In Exile logo.
5:28 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 4 (Community Center, 625 N. Main St.) Circled back here at request of a reader to check on estimated wait times. The line is out the building up the walk to the street and wrapped up the hill. Counted 60+ people outside, plus whatever is inside wrapped through the hallways. Queries to those who are emerging from the polling place: “How long did it take you to vote?”Answers range between 1.5 and 2.0 hours. Among those who emerged was Kyle Poplin, editor of The Ann Magazine. Standing in line outside is local attorney Dennis Hayes. Although there was a problem with the electronic poll book earlier in the day, that’s been resolved. Paul Fulton, of the city of Ann Arbor’s IT department, is onsite. The electronic poll book is working, but the state’s limit of one poll book per precinct means that there’s just the one check-in point.
Right now there’s more than two hours of voting time left before the polls close at 8 p.m., but The Chronicle is packing it in until the polls close and results are available. We urge readers who haven’t already voted to get out and do so, and to check back with us later tonight or tomorrow morning for election results. The Washtenaw County clerk will be posting unofficial results online, from city council through the presidential race: Washtenaw County election results. For the local races, if we’re able to report any results straight from precincts, we’ll share what we know, when we know it.
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