A Day at the Polls

Reports on primaries in Ward 3 and Ward 5 precincts

Today is election day in Ann Arbor. But that only matters if you’re voting in the Democratic primary election for city council – there are no Republican primary candidates. And even if you’re inclined to vote in the Democratic primary, it only matters if you live in Ward 3 or Ward 5, where the elections are contested.

In Ward 5, the two candidates are Mike Anglin and Scott Rosencrans. In Ward 3, there’s a three-way race between Leigh Greden, LuAnne Bullington, and Stephen Kunselman.

The two wards combined comprise 20 precincts. In the 13 hours between 7 a.m. when the polls open and 8 p.m. when they close, The Chronicle aims to visit the polling locations for all 20 precincts. We’re pretty sure that we’ll run into some Chronicle readers along the way – we figure the sort of people who’ll read 5,000 words about a city council meeting will also find their way to the poll on election day.

See you soon.

And track our progress after the break.

7 a.m. Ward 5. Lakewood Elementary. A dozen Rosencrans signs line Gralake on the approach into the school. First Anglin signs appear at the polling place. But this is Rosencrans’ backyard. Two fans are blowing in the gymnasium. Staffing the polls [Note: By "staffing" we meant handing out literature outside the 100-foot boundary as prescribed by the election law, not acting as a poll worker. Apologies for any confusion.], dressed tip to toe in green to match Rosencrans campaign literature and signs, is Helen Bunch. That’s Scott’s wife. She’s expecting it to be a close race. I don’t disagree. One in-person voter in the first 20 minutes.

7:33 a.m. Ward 5. Dicken Elementary. Lost in the neighborhood, I ask for directions from a morning walker, who advises that I can follow the sound of construction. New sidewalk forms getting built outside the school. Meg, who is wearing a Rosencrans T-shirt, reports that nobody has showed up to vote in person. She’ll be there until 9 a.m., though.

7:52 a.m. Ward 5. Bach Elementary. A few more Mike Anglin signs than in the western part of the ward. Scott Rosencrans is standing on the corner across the street from the polling place. He reports that there’s a household with both Anglin and Rosencrans signs at Felch & Spring. On expressing my hope that we would escape the possible thunderstorms, he replied, “Oh, it’s not going to rain.”

9:56 a.m. Ward 5. Ann Arbor District Library. First non-school polling place. No mascots like the Lakewood Lizard painted on the Lakewood Elmentary gym.

So far three in-person voters. Polling place has a sign designating its public area, which saves the question of poll workers: “Where is your public area for observation?” Press are not to otherwise engage poll workers during their work. Poll workers have all brought books to read. It’s a library, after all. One poll worker needs to leave before his assigned shift to attend to an urgent matter. One of the three remaining say to the departing colleague: “I doubt if we’ll get an avalanche, and I’ll be ready even if we do.”

The art on the walls is from the 7th Annual Teen Graffiti Art Contest. Exhibit goes through Aug. 30. Poll worker expresses preference for the piece with a dragon. They’re spray-painted on what appears to be plywood.

10:39 a.m. Ward 3. Pittsfield Elementary School. Live voters! One gentleman just finished. Another woman with child plus baby in stroller! Pittsfield Boulevard leading to the school is devoid of signage except for one Greden sign. Packard had one Kunselman sign. Wow! Another in-person voter arrives. Poll worker advises voter, there’s just the one race, just choose one name of the three. There’s an American flag hung on the gym wall vertically with the blue field oriented in the upper right corner. Recollections from my Boy Scout days tell me that’s wrong. It should be upper left.

11:33 a.m. Ward 3. University Townhouses Center. Signs at entrance off Ellsworth for everyone: Bullington, Greden, Kunselman. Witnessed 15th in-person voter of the day arriving. She begins interaction with poll workers with, “I suppose you’d like to see my driver license.” Yes, voters are now asked to produce ID. Forgot to mention previously that the border crossing from Ward 5 to Ward 3 went smooth. Before leaving Pittsflield Elementary I got some background on the co-op housing there from an arriving voter.

A report out of Ward 5, Bach School from someone who voted there suggests that issues with new paper used for the ballots has resulted in some difficulty feeding the ballot into the voting machine – sometimes you have to put it in upside down.

At University Townhouses Center, a poll worker discovers that the start of a lunch break has been missed for a colleague. The colleague is not disappointed to go to lunch.

12:08 p.m. Ward 3. Scarlett Middle School. School lobby has sign admonishing that scotch tape shouldn’t be used on the columns … sign itself affixed with such tape. No live voters here. Polling place is the cafeteria. Round tables with round seats are folded in half, pushed over to the side. Voter arrives. Time from filling out application to leaving polling place: 3:51. Another voter arrives. It’s a waiter from a restaurant I sometimes frequent.

12:41 p.m. Ward 3. Allen School. Poll worker declares they’ve had 118 voters so far. I’m not sure if that includes absentees. Four live voters arrive. Now five. One of the poll workers I recognize from the health care forum I attended at the library last Thursday. Holy cow, there’s a line now as another voter arrives. There’s two precincts combined at this polling place. “This is the longest line we’ve had. It’s been really steady, though, all day long.” Did not observe any difficulties with the machine accepting the paper ballots.

1:05 p.m. Ward 3. Tappan Middle School. 114 plus 60 absentee voters so far, reports a poll worker to the person who is probably number 115. The public area here at Tappan is in the bleachers of what seems to be the wrestling room. Is there middle school wrestling? A guy who’s working on the school building cleaning and maintenance said he’s doing this for the summer; he’s a school bus driver during the year. A car alarm goes off outside. How can anyone concentrate on voting with all this racket?

1:33 p.m. Ward 3. South Quad. Lots of people with nametags with place names like Chicago and San Francisco. They’re not voting. Could be a connection to UM parent orientation signs. Poll workers discuss feeding absentee ballots into the voting machine and various techniques for getting them to flatten out. One of them stresses that it takes two people to process them, one from each party. Election inspectors – that is, poll workers – must declare a party affiliation and everything has to be balanced.

With that, Ward 3 is done. Pretty soon the captain will come over the loudspeaker and advise as to how to fill out the customs declaration form for re-entry into Ward 5. I think everything I’ve done over here is duty free.

3:05 p.m. Ward 5. Eberwhite Elementary. Lots of construction around the school. Sidewalk repairs and whatnot. Ann Arbor Public Schools seems to have a capital maintenance program running up til the opening of school session. Voter appears. Knows the poll workers by name. There’s some kidding about the drivers license, but he produces it. Based on the precinct map on the wall, the 5-6 actually crosses Seventh Street over along Hutchins Avenue. I would have guessed that Hutchins north of Pauline voted at Bach Elementary. Nope. Another voter shows up – 110 so far, counting absentees, the poll worker says to the voter. “Sticker?” Answer: “Sure, why not.” It’s not news that the stickers say, “I voted.”

3:44 p.m. Ward 5. Slauson Middle School. “We’ve had over 200 people come in.” Poll worker reflecting on the change in the voting age from 21 to 18 years back in 1971. Offers the opinion that voting in person is important as a public act and that it’s an occasion for people to come together.

4:20 p.m. Ward 5. Forsythe Middle School. Poll worker tells arriving voter that 202 have voted so far. Poll workers discussing where to order pizza from for later. Three voters arrive. Pizza vote is postponed. Voter arrives, wondering if he’s in the right place. Riverwood subdivision – where should he vote? Out of earshot discussion. He leaves. Not sure what the verdict was.

4:41 p.m. Ward 5. Second Baptist Church. Poll worker tells voter there have been 62 actual bodies with 35 absentees. Voter: “I had to flip a coin.” Response from poll worker: “At least you had a coin to flip.” One frustrated voter arrives reporting that he initially went to Mack School.

5:03 p.m. Ward 5. Abbot Elementary. Two voters arrive and joke, “Is this the line?” Poll worker reports that longest “line” of the day has been four people.

5:41 p.m. Ward 5. Haisley Elementary. Rosencrans T-shirted young women who attend Rudolf Steiner handing out literature in front of the school. They say a lot of people indicate they’ve already made up their mind. Total voted to date here is 195. People have been coming in to vote about one every five minutes since I arrived.

This ends the tour of polling places for Ward 3 and Ward 5.


  1. By Julie
    August 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm | permalink

    There were 4 of us voting at Forsythe in Ward 5 at 7:15 am. FYI.

  2. By Bob Martel
    August 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm | permalink

    It’s scary to think that these elections are decided by so few voters!

  3. By Karen
    August 4, 2009 at 2:29 pm | permalink

    Just left 2nd Baptist – 78 votes counted. Apparently – a bunch of absentee.

  4. August 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm | permalink

    Yes, these August elections often have a lot of absentee voters. For example, 128 ballots were received from the 5th ward just on the single day, July 31.

  5. August 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm | permalink

    Tappan Middle School is precinct 3-3. Total turnout in August, 2007 was 283. Voting in Ann Arbor tends to be steady throughout the day. At 1:05 p.m. about half the voting day has elapsed. Therefore, the likely total turnout is 2 x 114 + those 60 absentees = 288. If present trends continue, this year’s vote will be a virtual duplicate of 2007.

    Allen Middle School combines precincts 3-4 and 3-7. In 2007 there were a total of 377 votes cast. So half of that would be 188 votes. It looks like the vote are running somewhat behind 2007.

  6. By Marvin Face
    August 4, 2009 at 4:30 pm | permalink

    I’m disappointed that for the past few years, and for the foreseeable future, I have been unable to vote on who represents me and have had to watch from the sidelines while others decide. Shame.

  7. By Julie
    August 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm | permalink

    Marvin… why?

  8. By Marvin Face
    August 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm | permalink

    Not a member of the Democrat party.

  9. By James D'Amour
    August 4, 2009 at 4:51 pm | permalink

    I was voter #53 @ 11:30 AM, Ward 3, Precinct 8 (Pittsfield Elementary School). Not sure AV counted as part of total count at that time.

    LOL, @ David’s report of American flag…as I was leaving, the poll workers were putting the flag up w/blue corner on upper left hand corner. Looks like people were paying attention to your report! :)

    Also, looks like Bullington’s people had placed more signs up, as I saw them near the entrances alongside the Greden ones (and Kunselman’s as well). For a brief shining moment, the end of the “signage” gap…

  10. By John Chapin
    August 4, 2009 at 5:03 pm | permalink

    one can only hope that something was done about Helen Bunch, as it doesn’t seem reasonable to have candidates’ relatives staffing the polling places. My polling place was closed and empty when I stopped by to cast a write-in vote for “None-Of-The-Above”, I assume part of the “Vision Quest” by the city mothers and fathers, no more bothering with elections, we’ll just caucus at the brewing company, and exchange thoughts on Twitter…

  11. By Shirley
    August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm | permalink

    Marvin, you don’t have to belong to the Democratic Party. Supposedly all the city council claims to be Democratic, even if they’re Republican or Independent, so get out there!

  12. By Marvin Face
    August 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm | permalink

    Is it true? Can I vote in the Democrat primary even though I am not registered as a democrat? If so, I’m on my way!

  13. By my two cents
    August 4, 2009 at 5:56 pm | permalink

    Yes it is true.

  14. August 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm | permalink

    Another Chronicle reader was out there. Didn’t see you at Bach. There were two of us voters around 2PM and a tally of about 80 voters total. It will be a tight race.

  15. By Dave Askins
    August 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm | permalink

    Re: [10] We’ve annotated in blue the vague language of the article prompting the first part of that comment. Apologies.

  16. By Dave Askins
    August 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm | permalink

    At Bach School, there is currently a little flurry of voting activity. Upwards of 250 counted on the machine. It took me a dozen tries to get the machine to accept my ballot.

  17. August 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm | permalink

    Anglin campaign HQ at the Firefly Club says that with about half the precincts reporting, Anglin is ahead by about a 3 to 1 margin.

  18. August 4, 2009 at 8:41 pm | permalink

    Dave Devarti, at Dominick’s with the Kunselman campaign, reports that Kunselman won by *six votes*.

    Of course these are preliminary figures.