Editor’s note: Based on early results, the transit millage appears to have passed.
It’s a Chronicle tradition to spend Election Day on two-wheeled transportation – a bicycle and a scooter – visiting as many precincts as possible and logging vignettes from the polls and points in between.
But today’s vote – in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township – includes way more geographic territory than we’re accustomed to covering.
Instead of trying to visit as many polling places as possible, we’re going to settle for visiting a couple in each jurisdiction. And to cover the distance, we’re going to tap the resources of the organization that’s putting the millage on the ballot – the AAATA fixed route bus system.
So updates today will be light on polling places and heavy on the points in between. We hope readers will help fill in the gaps by leaving comments on this article with their own vignettes from the polls.
Whatever your view on the millage, we hope you’ll mark a ballot today.
7:00 a.m. Ward 5, Precinct 2 (Bach Elementary School, 600 W. Jefferson St., Ann Arbor). We’re voters 1 and 2 here. When we point out the irony of showing a driver’s license to vote on a public transit proposal, poll workers seem to like the joke. Poll worker with American flag sweater worked this precinct at the Nov. 5, 2013 election as well.
7:15 a.m. Fleetwood Diner. Getting coffee for the road, we ask if any of the staff is planning to vote. The waitress indicates that she will, but it’s sure where her polling place is located. For anyone who needs to find out that information, it’s available on the Michigan Votes website.
7:25 a.m. Blake Transit Center. Lobby doesn’t open until 7:30 a.m. With the sun beaming down, the five-minute wait outside in 32 F degree temperature is not too bad. Across Fifth Avenue outside the Ann Arbor District Library polling location there is a Yes sign, a No sign and a sign for mayoral candidate Sally Petersen. You can’t vote for Petersen today, as the transit millage is the only question on the ballot. Wonder if any other candidates will have the same strategy for getting their names in front of voters for the August primary.
8:06 a.m. Blake Transit Center. Bus #427 departs with a total of 6 passengers. A sign gives instructions: No smoking, no eating, no drinking, no loud music. no profanity. We comply.
8:14 a.m. Packard & Stadium. An automated message, delivered by a female voice, tells us “Vote May 6. Important public transit decisions are being made. Vote May 6.”
8:20 a.m. Stone School & Packard. Former Georgetown Mall site is level dirt. Ward 4 councilmember Margie Teall asked at last night’s council meeting for a status report on the Packard Square development that’s supposed to go in there. Potholes are rattling the bus pretty good.
8:25 a.m. Ellsworth & Platt. Noticed a dead deer on the side of the road. City council action last night included a resolution directing the development of a collaborative effort to manage the deer herd.
8:30 a.m. Carpenter & Packard. Course correction. Boarded the wrong variant of Route #5 to get to Polo Fields, an Ypsi Township polling location. So we’re off the bus, and around the corner to the stop on Packard, and we’re picking up the Route #5A.
9:00 a.m. Ypsi Township Precincts 2 & 3 (Polo Fields, 2955 Packard). Poll worker small talk includes speculation that today’s high temperature will hit 62 F.
9:02 a.m. Ypsi Township Precincts 2 & 3 (Polo Fields, 2955 Packard). Poll worker tells voter: “You’re voter #30. That’s your lottery number for today!” Another man walks in the door. When directed toward the voting station, he clarifies: “Oh, I’m not here to vote – I’m looking for the restroom.”
9:20 a.m. Ypsi Township Precincts 2 & 3 (Polo Fields, 2955 Packard). Scott Martin, an Ypsilanti Township trustee, comes in to vote. He chats with poll workers and thanks them for their service. Though it’s by no means busy, a consistent flow of voters are passing through – 43 people so far.
9:50 a.m. Packard & Rice. Picking up the bus again, heading to Precinct 1. There’s no sidewalk on the south side of Packard along this stretch – but lots of dandelions.
10:05 a.m. Ypsi Township Precinct 1 (Free Methodist Church, 1800 Packard). Only 14 voters so far. The election chair thinks they’ll be lucky to get 10% turnout.
10:14 a.m. Ypsi Township Precinct 1 (Free Methodist Church, 1800 Packard). A voter arrives using AAATA’s A-Ride service. “It’s a party of one!” she jokes. She expresses surprise that there’s only one item on the ballot. The van driver isn’t voting here – he heads to the restroom.
10:26 a.m. Ypsi Township Precinct 1 (Free Methodist Church, 1800 Packard). A voter reminisces with poll workers about the November 2012 election, when lines were long. Poll workers recall they didn’t get out of here until 2 a.m. Apparently someone who’d been given a ballot got tired of waiting in line, and left – taking that ballot with him. It took a while to figure out what happened.
11:20 a.m. Ypsi City Ward 3, Precincts 1 & 3 (Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 201 N. River) Yes sign placed two inches in front of No sign, but not shoved as deep into the ground, leaving the stop sign graphic from the No sign visible as an odd lower panel for the Yes message. ”Are the numbers still matching?” is the question from one precinct worker to another. “Yes,” comes the reply. So far there’ve been 88 voters. Voters are being asked for a photo ID, not a driver’s license, but driver’s license is what is produced. Basement of church has shuffleboard court marked on the tile.
Little tyke with dad is confused about what this outing is for – thinking they’re going “boating” today. “Where is the boat? Where is it? Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?”
12:19 p.m. Sidetrack Bar and Grill. Lunch is fish tacos. And it is delicious.
12:45 p.m. Ypsilanti Transit Center. Route #6 pulls out headed to Ann Arbor. Young man boards at State and Research Park Drive, asks us how to get to Arrowwood. Not sure but this bus goes to downtown Ann Arbor and from there it’s probably the #1 – if not, you can catch whatever bus it is from there. Briarwood stop fills with half dozen passengers who scramble off just before we pull out, once they realize this is headed to Ann Arbor not Ypsi.
2:10 p.m. Back in Ann Arbor. Naps could be indicated.
6:15 p.m. Ward 1, Precinct 4 (Ann Arbor Community Center, 625 N. Main St.) Poll workers report a higher-than-expected turnout – 185 voters, when they expected closer to 60. As we’re talking, a “surge” of about six voters come in. One woman is pushing a stroller, and reports that her child was excited by the Community Center’s purple bus that’s parked outside. It turns out she’s also excited by the “I Voted” sticker.
That wraps it up for us.
Election results from the Washtenaw County clerk’s office will be available on the clerk’s May 6, 2014 election results webpage.
If you’d like to collect early results from the voting machine tapes, visit your precinct just before 8 p.m. and wait respectfully out of the way of the poll workers – the same people who opened the polls 13 hours before. It would be welcome if you logged the yes/no total in a comment on this article. We’ll compile them in a shared spreadsheet that everyone can view: [shared Google Spreadsheet].
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