As we have for the past few years, The Chronicle will be touring Ann Arbor polling stations on Election Day and providing updates throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
This year voters in the general election will be confronted with two issues – a city council race and the Ann Arbor Public Schools sinking fund millage. Ann Arbor city council seats have contested races in all five wards, but not all official candidates are on the ballot. Three candidates have filed as write-ins.
Voters in Ward 1 will see three names on the ballot: incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere, independent Jeff Hayner and independent Jacyln Vresics. Vresics has withdrawn from the race, but did not make that decision soon enough to prevent her name from appearing on the ballot.
Ward 4 Democratic primary winner Jack Eaton, who prevailed against incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins, does not face an opponent on the ballot. However, William Lockwood has filed as a write-in candidate for Ward 4.
Incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin was unchallenged in the Ward 5 primary, and does not have an opponent on the ballot for the general election. However, Thomas Partridge and Chip Smith are declared write-in candidates.
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.
7:15 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach School, 600 W. Jefferson St.): I was the fourth voter at this precinct just after the polls opened. First in line was declared write-in candidate Chip Smith. “I don’t mind being the experimental one,” he tells the poll workers.
No American flag is posted here, but one of the workers is wearing an American flag sweater. Done with the initial rush of a half-dozen voters, one poll worker remarks: “Well! I wonder if that’s it!” They sort out the schedule of lunch and dinner breaks and settle in for the wait. [Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., so including the work of closing down the polls they'll have a 14-hour day or longer.]
As I’m leaving, I run into Mike Anglin. I tell him that Chip Smith was already here, so Smith could be ahead of him. Anglin’s comeback: “For a time!”
7:48 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 4 & 5 (Slauson Middle School, 1019 W. Washington St.): A volunteer for Chip Smith’s write-in campaign is outside handing out literature. Twenty voters have come through so far, the poll workers say. One of the poll workers owns Davies House Inn, a bed-and-breakfast, so she has brought large coffee dispensers for her colleagues.
7:54 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 9 and Ward 2, Precinct 6 (Clague Middle School, 2616 Nixon Rd.): This polling station is combined with precincts from both Ward 1 and Ward 2, so there are signs for both races leading up to the school. Only one campaign – for Kirk Westphal – has volunteers outside, however. One of the volunteers is state Rep. Adam Zemke. He looks cold. Inside, poll workers report there’s been about 20 voters through so far, at a nice pace. Several more show up as we talk. “Tell people to come on out!” one worker says.
8:08 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 6 (Eberwhite School, 800 Soule Blvd.): The American flag at this precinct is a tabletop version next to the poll workers. The polls here are in the multi-purpose room, which includes a stage with what looks like a set for a current production. Off to the side is some kind of giant sea creature. A poll worker ventures that the paper mâché monster has the tail of an alligator. They’re on voter number 22. A cyclist with a full-on road cycling kit (including shoes not designed for walking) is one of those voters.
8:16 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 9 (Thurston School, 2300 Prairie St.): Volunteers for both Lumm and Westphal are standing outside Thurston. Don Salberg, who’s volunteering for Lumm and wears one of her campaign stickers on his hat, bemoans the low turnout – for this election, and in general, given the education level of this community. Poll workers report that nearly 30 voters have passed through. They say they’ll be surprised if the turnout here is much higher than 200 or so.
8:44 a.m. Ward 4 & 5, Precinct 7 (Dicken School, 2135 Runnymede Blvd.): South on Seventh Street and west on Stadium Boulevard, the route includes a few homemade Twenty Pound Carp signs. XX# [fish symbol] No signs for the carp are here at Dicken Elementary, however – a possible case of intimidation by another creature of the water. [School mascot: Dolphins] First question to all voters here: Ward 4 or Ward 5? Some don’t know. In response to that question, one voter describes the line he was in at the last presidential election. The same poll workers don’t necessarily work the same precincts in each election, so that piece of information doesn’t answer the question. They sort it out based on his address and the map posted on the wall.
9:04 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 8 (First United Methodist Church 1001 Green Rd.): The only volunteer here is a candidate – Kirk Westphal, with his bike leaning up against a tree. He lives nearby, but plans to bike over to another polling station after the morning “rush.” About 50 voters have passed through this morning, including Jim Blow, who hosts an interview show on Community Television Network. A poll worker greets a voter by saying “Welcome to the new location!” This is the first election that First United Methodist has been used as a polling station, after St. Paul Lutheran School decided not to continue offering its space for that purpose. The floor-to-ceiling windows here overlook a wooded area – it’s a beautiful setting. Poll workers have duct-taped an American flag to one of the windows, after discovering that the tape wouldn’t stick to the cinder block walls. Poll workers report there are no spoiled ballots so far.
9:08 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 9 (Lawton School, 2550 S. Seventh St.): Official, manufactured yard signs for Twenty Pound Carp are placed here along with some for Jack Eaton. Not overheard: “As fish go, a carp makes pretty good Eaton.” No signs for declared Ward 4 write-in William Lockwood. A voter on exiting tells the poll workers, “Thanks, guys, for doing this.” Voter count so far: 40.
9:36 a.m. Ward 2, Precinct 7 (King School, 3800 Waldenwood Lane): Voter No. 75 walks in the door. Poll workers comment on how cold it is in this multi-purpose room. One of them is knitting – maybe a scarf to help keep her warm later in the day. “My hand’s so cold I can’t hold on to the ballot,” one jokes. Another worker takes a quick jog around the room during a break to help her circulation. Someone spots a deer walking along the edge of the playground and everyone – poll workers, voters and me – rush over to the windows. It looks like a four-point buck. “That’s probably the most excitement we’ll have today,” one of the workers quips.
9:40 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 4 & 8 (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.): This polling place has posted prominently at the entrance standard instructions on cell phones and cameras in the voting area – they’re not allowed. Also an admonishment to the press: No interviews of voters allowed inside the polling place. So far 62 voters have cast their ballots at this combined precinct.
10:03 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 4 (Community Center, 625 N. Main St.): So far 26 people have voted. Poll worker says she’s pleased about that. She says that last election she was assigned to St. Paul’s up in Ward 2, Precinct 8, which has changed locations to the First United Methodist Church.
10:14 a.m. Ward 3, Precinct 6 & 9 (Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine St.): Very quiet here, even though this polling station has combined precincts. Only about 40 voters so far. There are signs up for both candidates – Kunselman and DeVarti – but no volunteers in site.
10:42 a.m. Ward 1, Precinct 3 (Community High School, 401 N. Division St.): The polls are set up in the auditorium. It’s dark and cold. Lots of light is coming through the windows, but it’s still pretty dim inside. Poll workers are worried about light levels after the sun sets. One poll worker notes that her granddaughter was born on Election Day last year, so she’s now a year old. They’ve had six voters so far. Voter now interacting with poll workers about her registration. She voted at this precinct at last election, she says. They’re not finding her name – she tells them she’s changed her address since last election, but still lives in the same precinct. She’s not in the electronic poll book. A call is made to the city clerk’s office. She’s not able to vote except by provisional ballot, because she’s registered in another Michigan city. Voter ventures that the snafu resulted from being issued a new ID after she turned 21. Looks like she’ll try with a provisional ballot, but it might not count. That will ultimately be up to the board of canvassers. Update: She decided not to try with provisional ballot, given that it’d most likely be disallowed. She did fill out a new registration, though, so that she can vote here next time.
11:19 a.m. En route: The route from the Community High School precinct location to the Ann Arbor District Library takes me past city hall, where some members of the homeless community set up an encampment of tents on the steel walkway that leads from the sidewalk into the building. A man named Tim, who’s organizing the group, reports that AAPD officers dismantled the tents a short time ago. The group is still on the sidewalk holding signs demonstrating. One sign says, “Houses Not Handcuffs.” They’re trying to draw attention to what they say is the AAPD strategy for dealing with the homeless – rousting them out of their encampments without any direction about where they should go instead. The result is that AAPD chases the homeless from one encampment to the next. Tim says he’s met with city administrator Steve Powers, but Tim indicates skepticism about any outcome from that conversation.
11:24 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 1 (Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.): The rule against cell phones and camera usage in the voting area appears to be a point of emphasis this year. A poll worker places a call to the city clerk’s office to ask if press can sit in the public area with a laptop computer open. The answer appears to be yes. Poll workers report that 27 people have voted so far. A poll worker identifies a just-departed voter as Piotr Michalowski, who was a professor of hers.
11:30 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 11 (Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd.): Signs for both Mike Anglin and Chip Smith here, but again no volunteers from either campaign. Voter count so far is 117. Poll workers report a minor computer glitch this morning: Their password had been incorrectly entered, so there was some last minute scrambling before the poll opened, about 2-3 minutes late. All has gone smoothly since then, they report, and IT staff has been helpful. One poll worker talks to another one about a solar cooperative project he’s working on in the Water Hill neighborhood. John Floyd walks. He’d been working for Lumm’s campaign in Ward 2 earlier this morning, where he says he met candidate Conrad Brown dropping off signs.
12:01 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 8 (Skyline High School, 2552 N. Maple Rd.): Because of the anticipated lower turnout, poll workers are set up in the downstairs lobby, rather than the much larger second-floor cafeteria, where the polling station usually is. Voter No. 105 is Eli Neiburger, associate director of the Ann Arbor District Library, who expresses some disappointment that there are no campaign signs here for the Twenty Pound Carp.
12:30 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 10 (Abbot School, 2670 Sequoia Parkway) Signs are posted in the entry lobby for a different kind of election: student council. My favorite: “Don’t be silly, vote for Lily.” The poll workers are wearing their winter coats because a ceiling fan is blowing straight at them. Forms are weighted down to prevent them from blowing off the table. So far, 103 voters have passed through.
12:51 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 1 & 2 (Michigan League, 911 N. University Avenue): On the way through downtown to the Michigan League I encounter Mixed Use Party organizer Will Leaf. Leaf says he’s taking a break from flyering. He’s measuring success by increasing voter turnout in student districts. He recalls one precinct last time around that had only three voters. Here at the Michigan League 37 voters have cast ballots so far. A Michigan Daily reporter is interviewing a voter who has emerged from the voting area. The registration tables are set up in the main hallway, along with the precinct maps, so there’s not a lot of signage required to figure out where to vote.
1:04 p.m. Ward 5, Precinct 9 (Haisley School, 825 Duncan St.): This polling station is located in a school off of Miller Avenue, which is being reconstructed and allows vehicles to travel in only one direction – eastbound. So navigating to the school is a bit challenging. No voters are here now, but the count stands at 136. Two poll workers give advice on taking different routes through the neighborhood, to avoid Miller. One of the suggestions would involve taking my scooter on a pedestrian path – not really an option.
1:11 p.m. Ward 2, Precinct 2 (Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Avenue): Entering through the south entrance there’s a dearth of signage. Asking a young professor type coming off the elevator yields impeccable manners and spot-on directions. There’s a dispenser for “wet umbrella bags” at the entrance. At the polling place, workers report that three people have voted so far. That’s a pace of well under one per hour. What makes it exciting for them, though, is the fact that two out of the three were first-time voters. Another person arrives: “Hi, is this where voting occurs?” This is number four. And a minute later, before number four is done, here’s number five.
1:32 p.m. Ward 2, Precinct 3 & 4 (Angell School, 1608 S. University Ave.): Turning left off southbound Washtenaw Avenue into the school entrance down the lane is a bit of a traffic navigation challenge, but counts as another bicyclist-motorist interaction that did not end with cussing, epithets or angry honks. Voter emerging from polling station says 195 people have voted so far. She thinks a lot of people will have voted by absentee ballot in this part of the city – for Jane Lumm, she hopes. She’s walking a mile home on what she describes as a lovely day to do that.
1:57 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 1 & 2 and Ward 4, Precinct 1 (Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.): Poll workers report that they’ve had 18 voters so far but are quick to point out that’s a total over three precincts. An “opening soon” sign for au bon pain stands at the end of the hallway where the polls are located. It incorporates photos of food, including a chocolate cupcake with white icing. Poll workers are killing the time talking about various programs they volunteer with: SafeHouse and Warm the Children.
2:01 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 10 (Arrowwood Hills Community Center, 2566 Arrowwood Tr.) Precinct chair John Wiseman tells me that this is a “full-service precinct,” then offers me a donut. They’re about halfway through the day, with around 150 voters. Wiseman hopes they’ll hit 300. He notes that all four poll workers are regulars here – they usually work at this polling station. They all live in Ward 2. We chat about nonpartisan elections, which they’re in favor of.
2:28 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2 (Mary Street Polling Place, 926 Mary St.): So far 19 voters have cast their ballots here. A generation difference among poll workers leads to a difference of opinion on the topic of: How to hold a pen. Conversation turns to the Winter Classic hockey game on Jan. 1, 2014. It’s described as a “liquor-fueled NHL hockey game.” They think that traffic will be more of a challenge than college football games, because there will be a lot of out-of-town visitors who don’t have any idea where to park – unlike UM football fans who have a regular, familiar routine. As one poll worker goes on break, he exits the building with an offer to his colleagues: “Anything anybody needs from the outside world?”
Just before packing up, Brendan from the city’s IT department drops by. This is the third time I’ve encountered him today – also at Bach Elementary and at Dicken Elementary. He’s circulating to 13 different locations to check on the IT components (electronic poll books). Poll worker volunteers that parking on the street – in the three spaces forming the loading zone in front of the building – is 30 minutes, but while voting only. Poll worker recalls the one year that Al Jazeera sent a reporter to cover the election by visiting this precinct.
2:35 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 5 & 6 (Northside School, 912 Barton Drive) The school mascot – Polar Bears – is apt for the temperature here. There aren’t any voters when I show up, but after a lull there’s a mini-rush of four people to bring the day’s total to 155. A couple of men express surprise that they have to provide photo IDs or sign an affidavit. One of them calls it “more voter suppression” but he shows the ID. A poll worker notes that everyone has different opinions about it, but it’s the law. A child leaving the polling station with his mother reads the “I Voted” sticker. “What’s it mean?” he asks. The explanation offered involves choosing what you want.
2:58 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 5 (St. Clare/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard Rd.): Poll workers say they’re not sure what was projected as far as turnout, but they’re happy with the 83 who’ve come through so far. Voter 84 arrives, votes, departs. Voters 85 and 86 have now arrived. And now 87. From arriving to exiting out the door, voter 85 took 4 minutes 25 seconds. It’s a short ballot.
3:17 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 7 (Pierpont Commons, 2101 Bonisteel Boulevard) When asked how many people have voted, a poll worker says, “Here’s Miss 12!” The young woman gives a pageant wave and quips “My float will be circulating the building!” One of the previous 11 was a first-time voter, and a photo was taken of her on her cell phone standing by the vote tabulator. The polling station is the best smelling so far, located in the commons near Panda Express.
3:35 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 6 (Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard): Here at Cobblestone Farm, signs indicate the farmers market today starts at 4 p.m. a short while from now. An email from Stephen Kunselman reports that he’s at Slauson Middle School collecting signatures for his mayoral election bid in 2014. In light of conversation at Mary Street polling location, it’s a fair question: Are Kunselman petition signers holding their pens correctly? Voter count at Cobblestone Farm is 144. Another voter arrives and wrecks the perfect square. A voter seeks clarification that if she votes yes on the Ann Arbor Public Schools proposal, that means she is supporting the sinking fund. That’s right.
3:49 p.m. Ward 2, Precinct 1 (Family Housing Comm. Center, 1000 McIntyre Dr.): Walking in with me is a city IT worker, who’s just checking to make sure all’s well with the electronic poll book. They’ve had 77 voters so far today, with about another 100 absentee ballots for this precinct. One of the poll workers is Eleanor Linn, who tells me she’ll be attending tomorrow night’s planning commission meeting because downtown zoning revisions are on the agenda. One of the candidates for city council in this precinct, Kirk Westphal, is chair of the planning commission – but neither of us mention that. We look at the precinct map on the wall to get a sense of where the majority of voters might be coming from. In addition to campus housing, there’s a small neighborhood on the west side of Green Road, north of Glazier Way.
4:15 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 4 & 7 (Allen School, 2560 Towner Blvd.): Poll worker Pete Schermerhorn says that 337 people have voted so far. [Schermerhorn ran for city council against Stephen Kunselman in 2006 as the Green Party candidate and polled 16% of the vote.]
4:28 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 8 (Pittsfield School, 2543 Pittsfield Blvd.) Walking into the school, I see a notice for the online Pittsfield Press – competition! Inside the polling station there are no voters now, but the tally for the day is 190 with about four hours to go. As is the case with almost all poll workers I encounter, this group is really friendly. They start telling me jokes, but only clean ones. Here’s the best: A couple of reporters are traveling through the country and see a farmer standing next to an apple tree holding up a pig. They stop and watch as the pig eats an apple from the tree. Then the farmer picks up another pig, who eats an apple from the tree. Curious, the reporters go over to the farmer and ask what he’s doing. “Feeding my pigs,” the farmer replies. “Doesn’t that take a long time?” the reporters ask. The farmer looks at them and shrugs: “What’s time to a pig?”
5:05 p.m. Ward 2, Precinct 5 (Ann Arbor Assembly of God, 2455 Washtenaw Ave.): The church has provided bottled water and snacks to poll workers, who’ve had about 355 voters pass through as of nearly 5 p.m. I’m there for about 5 minutes with no voters in sight, then a half dozen people walk in – perhaps the start of the post-work rush. One of the voters is Tim Petersen, but he comes without his wife Sally Petersen, a Ward 2 city councilmember. She was first elected in 2012 to a two-year term, so she’s not on the ballot today.
5:27 p.m. Ward 3, Precinct 3 (Tappan Middle School, 2551 E. Stadium Blvd.) Poll workers were proud of their 305 voter total half an hour ago. Since then about 30 more have voted. Among the notables: Jeff Meyers, Kathryn Goodson, Glenn Nelson, Bob Schoeni
And that wraps up the tour for this year. The polls close at 8 p.m. The earliest results could be available within a half hour or so after the polls close. We’ll publish initial, unofficial results – based on voting machine tapes generated at the close of polls – in the Civic News Ticker. The Washtenaw County clerk’s website for election results will also have unofficial tallies. It will also include a beta version of a mapped view of results.
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