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 primary will be confronted with a single issue – a city council race. Ann Arbor city council seats have contested Democratic primaries in just two of the five wards. No Republican candidates are on the ballot.
Voters in Ward 3 will choose between incumbent Stephen Kunselman and Julie Grand. In Ward 4, the choice is between incumbent Marcia Higgins and Jack Eaton.
For all of you procrastinators who are still researching the candidates, here’s a link to Chronicle coverage of the Democratic primary races for Ann Arbor city council this year.
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 3, Precinct 8 (Pittsfield School, 2543 Pittsfield Blvd.) As I roll up, poll worker Joseph Bones opens the door to the elementary school. In a loud, booming voice, he declares the polls open for all the world to hear. One person was there that early to vote. Two more arrive shortly after that. Among the reading material brought by poll workers: “Evil” by David Baldacci.
7:20 a.m. Ward 3, Precincts 1 & 2 (Michigan League, 911 N. University) Outside, there are 16 campaign signs for Julie Grand posted around the perimeter of the Michigan League – but so far, none for Stephen Kunselman. Poll workers expect an extremely slow day. They’re taking bets on the number of voters who might show up, with estimates ranging from 34 to 75.
This is a polling station for a combined precinct, and one of those precincts, 3-1, is primarily University of Michigan student housing, including the East Quad dorm. Poll workers recall that they were busy in November of 2012. “That was fun,” one of them says. One of the poll workers brought chocolate cookies to share. Another one brought carrot cake. They are well stocked for the long day.
7:49 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 1 (Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.) The small polling room on the union’s first floor is stuffy – both the heat and the AC are on, poll workers report. One person has voted here so far. Because this is also a heavy student precinct – including the South Quad dorm – workers don’t expect more than a trickle of voters. They’ve brought reading material.
8:08 a.m. Ward 3, Precincts 6 & 9 (Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine St.) Approaching the Turnberry neighborhood through a cross-lot path, there’s a small sign in a front lawn: “US War Dead: 6,745.” The polls are set up in the gym. The two doors are propped open to the outside, but the air inside remains heavy with the smell of old gym wood floor varnish. A banner indicates that Scarlett athletes compete as the Roadrunners. Other middle schools: Cougars (Clague), Trojans (Tappan), Vikings (Forsythe), Golden Bears (Slauson), and Pandas (Ann Arbor Open). No Wile E. Coyotes in the mix. About a dozen people have voted so far. As she’s leaving, one tells the poll workers: “Thanks for doing this, you guys!”
8:27 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 3 (UM Coliseum, Fifth Ave. & Hill St.) Voter No. 2 this morning just walks in – Graydon Krapohl, a member of the city’s park advisory commission. We chat after he finishes voting, and he reports that he’ll be putting out campaign signs here for incumbent Marcia Higgins. Signs for Jack Eaton are already posted in the appropriate spots. A few more voters show up, and most seem familiar to the poll workers. One worker is sewing red cloth baskets – she has three on the table. Others are doing more traditional time-killing activities: Reading and chatting. Voter No. 8 has now arrived.
And now voter No. 9 – Ned Staebler. He points out that voters no longer have to sign the statement saying they are a U.S. citizen. “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on Facebook,” he jokes. Staebler also observes there are no longer any paper poll books – all precincts use electronic poll books now, and he clarifies that candidates can look at those. One of the poll workers asks: “Who are you?” He explains that he previously ran for office here, and has worked on other campaigns. Most recently, in 2010 he ran for state representative in District 53, but lost a very close race in the Democratic primary to Jeff Irwin.
8:35 a.m. Ward 3, Precinct 5 (University Townhouses Center, 3200 Braeburn Circle) The speedbumps leading to the polls are substantial. Poll workers are disappointed that I am not here to vote. Three people have cast their ballots in person so far. There’s not typically a morning rush, they explain, but around lunchtime and evening when people get off work, they expect to see a few more voters. Poll workers sort through the scheduling for their lunch breaks.
9:02 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 2 (Mary St. Polling Place, 926 Mary St.) Here at the city’s historic polling station – the only building that’s still used for its original purpose – the smell of bleach doesn’t quite mask the underlying scent of bird excrement. Most of the year, this small one-room structure is used by the Bird Center of Washtenaw County. There have been three voters here by 9 a.m., including one of the poll workers. The precinct chair, Richard Holmes, points out the new window air-conditioner that’s been installed. But unlike most August primaries when the weather is hot and humid, the AC is hardly needed today. At nearly every polling station, workers remark on the pleasant weather this year – they caught a break.
9:13 a.m. Ward 3, Precincts 4 & 7 (Allen School, 2560 Towner Blvd.) The road to Allen Elementary is called Easy Street, which competes with Goat Fell for the best street name in the city. The pervious pavers on the east side of Easy Street have sunken a bit, making cycling a bit of a challenge. Poll workers exhibit a bit of precinct pride in reporting that 48 people have voted so far. At one point, four people were in line, and two of the voting booths were occupied at the same time. They’re happy the lighting in the school has been upgraded, making it easier to see than in past years. They offer me a spot to observe, situated between the flag of the state of Michigan and the American flag.
9:32 a.m. Ward 3, Precinct 3 (Tappan Middle School, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd.) When I arrive, 64 people have voted. During the next 15 minutes, another 10 people show up to vote, but never enough to create a wait. On her way out, one voter says, “Well, that was really easy!”
City attorney Stephen Postema walks in and introduces himself to poll workers as a member of the city’s election commission. He arrives at the same time as Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor and two other voters. Outside, two volunteers for Julie Grand – wearing her purple campaign T-shirts – are handing out literature and talking to voters on their way in. These are the first campaign workers I’ve encountered so far at a polling station.
10:08 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 6 (Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard St.) Large cutouts of fruits and vegetables along Packard indicate the farmers market, which runs from 4-7 p.m. at this location today. At the polls, a ballot jams in the machine. Could be the humidity. In any case, it results in a spoiled ballot. And the tabulator appears to be wrecked. Poll workers decide to have subsequent voters put their ballots in the auxiliary bin in the voting machine on the lower left side of the machine. The second voter who was asked to use this secondary procedure is Liz Margolis, Ann Arbor Public Schools communications director. Her comment to poll workers on placing it in the auxiliary bin: “As long as it counts.”
A few minutes later, the poll workers break out the manual for opening up the tabulator to clear obstructions. “You want to take one and try it again?” It appears that one of the wheels that pulls in the ballots is not grabbing properly. It’s pulling on one side but not the other. A technician is called. He’s now on site. Wire cutters are located. Current count is verified. Power is switched off. Tabulator is removed from top of machine. Replacement is installed. Poll workers engage in verification procedures. Ballots are fed successfully through the new tabulator. Technician leaves with defective tabulator.
City attorney Stephen Postema has arrived. He’s approaching each poll worker, introducing himself and thanking them for their service, working the room as a candidate running for office would. This is his custom, as a member of the city’s election commission, to visit the polls, introduce himself and shake hands with as many people as possible. So it’s not necessarily analyzable as a soft launch to his campaign for 22nd Circuit Court judge in 2014. Still, according to some members of the Washtenaw County legal community, he’s told them that he’s decided to run in 2014 for the judgeship that Donald Shelton will leave open when Shelton is “aged out.” Other possible candidates include Cedric Simpson and Erane Washington.
11:56 a.m. Ward 4, Precinct 5 (Clare Church/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard) So far 53 people have cast ballots here. The designated public area for this precinct includes a table and a chair, making it the very best precinct in the city from the perspective of a working journalist. Campaign sign count outside is Eaton, 5; Higgins, 3.
This polling location is on an AAATA bus route. Bus #479 [vehicle number] has just pulled into the stop heading southeast on Packard [Route #5]. A family arrives – parents, teenage daughter, and two younger kids. About the older daughter, mother announces: “This is her first time voting!” After voting, she declares: “That’s exciting.” “I voted” stickers are handed out all around.
2:12 p.m. Ward 4, Precincts 4 & 8 (Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.) Voter No. 123 walks into the Pioneer gym, which is empty except for the four poll workers. “How will you handle this big crowd?” she jokes. One worker reports that turnout is better than expected, and has been steady.
Soon there’s a mini rush of sorts, with about five voters showing up. The gym is a little stuffy – one of the big stationary fans isn’t working, and the school electrician is enlisted to see if it can be fixed.
Also making an appearance is Howard Scheps from the city clerk’s office, with some paperwork for a poll worker to fill out. One of the workers calls out: “Get two pieces of ID from this guy!”
2:37 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 9 (Lawton School, 2250 S. Seventh St.) To get to the polling room here, you have to navigate a twist of hallways, though there are plenty of “Vote Here” signs to guide the way. Even so, one voter that I encounter has gone into a darkened room by mistake, so I point her in the right direction. Turns out we interrupted someone’s nap.
There have been 150 voters so far, and poll workers cheer when they hear that their number is higher than the Pioneer High polling station. They talk about a relatively easy wrap-up after polls close at 8 p.m., given the relatively low number of voters and the simple ballot – especially compared to November 2012. One woman who took less than a minute to vote says “That’s my kind of ballot!”
3:19 p.m. Ward 4, Precinct 7 (Dicken School, 2135 Runnymede) The polls have been open 8 hours when voter No. 200 walks into the gym at Dicken. Poll workers have been here since 6 a.m., and have five more hours until the polls close – not that they’re counting.
The elderly couple who are voters No. 199 and 200 walk arm in arm. The woman tells poll workers that “I used to work here many years ago.” The man says he’s glad it’s a short ballot. He puts the “I Voted” sticker on his forehead, and paraphrases General MacArthur as he walks out: “I shall return – in November!”
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.
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