Stories indexed with the term ‘election’

New Technology for Tech Bond Election

On Tuesday, May 8, Ann Arbor voters will be asked to approve a bond to support investments in technology for Ann Arbor Public Schools. And it turns out that new technology will play a part in the Ann Arbor city clerk’s implementation of the election.

Driver's license can be swiped for automatic lookup in the electronic pollbooks that will be deployed at eight precincts for the May 8 election. The voting process itself will take place using the usual paper ballots.

A driver's license can be swiped for automatic lookup in the electronic pollbooks that will be deployed at eight precincts for the May 8 election. The voting process itself will take place using the usual paper ballots.

In eight of the city’s 37 precincts, election workers will deploy electronic pollbooks (EPBs) – information downloaded onto laptop computers (the night before the election) from the state’s qualified voter file. (The count of 37 precincts arises from the combination of several of the city’s usual 48 precincts for this local election.)

The laptops are supplied to the city of Ann Arbor by the state of Michigan through the Help America Vote Act. Michigan’s secretary of state’s office told The Chronicle in a phone interview that of Michigan’s roughly 1,500 different municipalities across Michigan about 800 will use EPBs in the May election, and more than 1,000 will use them in the August primaries. In 2009 40 different municipalities had tested the system.

Ann Arbor is piloting the EPBs in eight precincts this spring, with an eye toward expanding citywide by the November 2012 presidential election. Voters in the eight precincts won’t need to do anything different to prepare to vote. The voting itself won’t take place electronically. Voters will still fill in ovals on paper ballots. EPBs are simply for pollworkers to check in voters and perform record-keeping tasks at the precinct through voting day.

The eight precincts where EPBs will be deployed on May 8 are 1-8 (Skyline High School), 1-10 (Arrowwood), 2-5 (Ann Arbor Assembly of God), 2-7 (King Elementary School), 4-4 and 4-8 combined (Pioneer High School), 5-3 (Second Baptist Church), 5-6 (Eberwhite School), and 5-11 (Forsythe Middle School).

Voters will have mostly the same experience voting that they’ve always had. For example, they’ll still need to bring a photo ID. If that ID is in the form of a Michigan driver’s license, a voter might enjoy an incrementally faster check-in time at the polls. That’s because election workers will be able to scan a driver’s license for automatic lookup in the EPB.

The city clerk trained election inspectors in the use of EPBs at three sessions last week. The Chronicle attended the Thursday, April 26 session. [Full Story]

Six to Vie for Two Seats on School Board

Today, Aug. 16, marked the filing deadline to appear on the ballot as an Ann Arbor Public Schools board of trustees candidate in the Nov. 8, 2011 election. Two four-year terms, beginning January 1, 2012 and ending December 31, 2015, are up for election this year.

The two seats are currently held by Simone Lightfoot and Andy Thomas – who are both running for re-election, Washtenaw County clerk staff confirmed today.

Challenging the incumbents are: Albert Howard, Ahmar Iqbal, Patrick Leonard, and Larry Murphy. Voters will be able to select up to two out of the field of six, with the top two winning election to the board. Thomas, Murphy and Iqbal all attended an information session held for … [Full Story]

Incumbents Win Ann Arbor Dem Primaries

Based on unofficial vote totals from all precincts, incumbents in three Ann Arbor city wards have won the Democratic Party’s nomination for city council representative, and they will appear on the ballot in November.

2011 City Map Dem Primary

Ward maps showing incumbents relative strength across precincts. The circles represent results of the absent voter count boards for each ward. (Image links to higher resolution file.)

In Ward 2, Stephen Rapundalo received 57% of the vote: 573 votes, compared with Tim Hull’s 420.

In Ward 3, Stephen Kunselman received 59% of the vote: 637 votes, compared to 389 for Ingrid Ault and 55 for Marwan Issa.

And in Ward 5, Mike Anglin received 66% of the votes: 1,088 votes, compared with Neal Elyakin’s 562.

Turnout was down in every ward compared to previous odd-year Democratic primaries. In Ward 2 only 6.39% of registered voters turned in a ballot. In Ward 3, only 8.84% of those who are registered actually voted. And in Ward 5, registered voters had a turnout of only 8.71%.

In the city’s other two wards, no Democratic primary was contested. No ward had a contested Republican primary.

In Ward 2, for the Nov. 8, 2011 general election, Rapundalo does not currently face a challenger. The deadline for an independent candidate to file is Aug. 15.

In Ward 3, Kunselman’s name will appear on the ballot along with Republican David Parker. In Ward 5, Mike Anglin will face Republican Stuart Berry.

In Ward 4, which did not require a primary election, incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins will face Republican Eric Scheie in November. In Ward 1, incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere faced no primary challenger and will face no challenger on the ballot in November unless an independent files qualifying petitions by Aug. 15. [Full Story]

Column: Ann Arbor Ward Shifts Should Wait

On the Ann Arbor city council’s agenda for Tuesday, July 5, is a proposal to redraw the boundaries for the city’s five wards. That’s a regular event that can take place every 10 years, after the data from the decennial U.S. census are released.

Ann Arbor redistricting

Yellow cross-hatched areas reflect proposed portions of the city that are now in Ward 1, but would become part of some other ward instead. (Image links to high resolution .pdf file of all affected areas.)

Of course, the city is not the only local unit of government faced with the task of evaluating election boundaries every 10 years. For Washtenaw County, the board of commissioner districts were redrawn after a series of public meetings held by the county’s reapportionment committee and covered by The Chronicle. That initiative resulted in a reduction of the number of county board seats from 11 to nine. ["County Board Loses Two Seats in Redistricting"]

Although it is not the city election commission’s assigned responsibility to handle city ward reapportionment, the commission met on Friday, June 10, 2011 and worked out recommended changes. The changes essentially pare down Ward 1, which over the last 10 years has grown in population relative to other wards.

By comparison to the new county districts, the proposed new ward boundaries for the city of Ann Arbor reflect fairly minor changes. For one thing, the number of wards has not changed – the city charter requires exactly five wards, and further stipulates that they must be roughly pie-shaped, with the slices of pie meeting near the center of the city. The charter also stipulates that the ward boundaries be changed as little as possible from the existing lines. I don’t have a problem with the proposed changes themselves.

However, the proposal before the city council on July 5 is that the ward boundaries should be effective after the Aug. 2 primary election, but before the general election on Nov. 8. Changing the boundaries between the primary and the general election is just bizarre.

Sticking with the same rules from the beginning of the election process to the end – that’s as American as apple-pie-shaped wedges. [Full Story]

Column: Call for Election Numbers Help

Editor’s note: This column includes a request for help in logging early election results straight from polling locations after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. If you’d like to help – by gaining editing access to a shared spreadsheet, or by texting, Tweeting, or calling in results to us – shoot us an email:

The general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2 comes after eight games have been played on a 12-game schedule for the University of Michigan football team. The guys in the winged helmets are currently sitting at 5-3, which is better than the 2-7 record they’d achieved at the same point during their 2008 campaign.

election tape report

The top end of a voting machine tape from Ward 1, Precinct 5 from the Aug. 3, 2010 primary.

For me, the 2008 general election – and because I am quick to generalize, all elections – will always be linked to UM football. They’re linked in the form of Jonas Mouton, a linebacker I met in the course of my election day travels in 2008. Mouton was nearly denied the franchise when he tried to vote at the Pioneer High School precinct, but was finally able to cast his ballot.

Elections are, of course, not one bit like a football game, let alone a football season – that’s purely a writerly ploy to set up some kind of thematic backdrop against which I can ask readers a favor: We’re asking for help in collecting precinct-level election results on Tuesday night.

Otherwise put, on Tuesday evening, we’d like to ask that you play for The Chronicle’s team. To quote legendary UM coach Bo Schembechler, when we collect the precinct level results, “we’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other.”

Veteran consumers of local online information know that election results for all the precincts in Washtenaw County will eventually be available on the county clerk’s website. As results are filed with the clerk, election staff upload them incrementally. With polls closing at 8 p.m., and poll closing procedures taking roughly 30-60 minutes to complete, the first results typically begin to appear on the clerk’s website towards 10 p.m. and are generally uploaded for the entire county sometime in the early morning hours, if not sooner. That’s pretty quick, actually.

But it’s not Denard Robinson quick. [Full Story]

Election Night in Washtenaw County

Behind the county clerk's counter on election night, inspecting poll books from the city of Ann Arbor. Only Ann Arbor uses pink paper – all others are white. No one at the clerk's office knows why. From left: Ward Beauchamp, Jason Brooks, Jen Beauchamp, Janna Parmeter. (Photo by the writer.)

It’s a few minutes after 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, and polls throughout Washtenaw County have just closed. At this point it’s fairly quiet in the offices of the county clerk, where about a half dozen people are preparing for what could be a long night of processing election returns.

Matt Yankee, the deputy clerk in charge of elections, is drinking a Diet Coke and fielding questions about what needs to be done. Jason Brooks, another deputy clerk, asks how he can help. “Why don’t you do the phones and be an Ann Arbor runner?” Yankee suggests. Brooks gives a mock salute, and almost on cue, the phone rings.

The premiere of the ABC series “V” is playing on a large screen TV in the office – a ticker of election results from metro Detroit is running along the bottom of the screen – but nobody is watching.

The Chronicle spent several hours on election night shadowing this crew, getting a glimpse of what it takes to handle the returns from 116 precincts in Washtenaw County. Though there were a few glitches – mostly problems stemming from the printing company hired to make the ballots – the evening is remarkable for its organized, systematic execution of tasks. Elections are events in which the uneventful is desired.

That’s not to say that nothing happened. [Full Story]

Pondering Ann Arbor Poll Accessibility

wheelchair universal access stencil on concrete slab

University Townhouses, the polling location for Precinct 5 in Ward 3, had specific improvements made under a 2005 grant. (Photo by the writer on Sept. 7, 2009; links to higher resolution file.)

In a letter dated Sept. 1, 2009, addressed to Ann Arbor’s city clerk, Jackie Beaudry, the nonprofit Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service Inc. gave the city a Sept. 15 deadline to respond to its concerns about accessibility to polling locations in Ann Arbor.

The response deadline comes two weeks ahead of the expiration of a grant for which the city was approved in 2007 under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The grant was for improvements in accessibility to Tappan and Eberwhite schools.

Lansing-based MPAS is concerned that the city has not submitted work for reimbursement under the 2007 grant. And that would put in jeopardy the city’s 2009 grant application for improvements to five additional locations – Northside, Dicken, Lawton, Lakewood and Pittsfield elementary schools. The MPAS letter paints a picture suggesting the city has not made progress towards addressing problems that the city itself identified in 2004 at 21 of the city’s 48 precincts.

However, after checking into the matter with MPAS, the state’s Bureau of Elections, and Ann Arbor city staff, The Chronicle has concluded that: (i) the situation with the 2007 grant is a matter of non-communication and paperwork follow-through, (ii) that prior to 2007, the city of Ann Arbor completed work under HAVA grants, with some reimbursements already made, and other payments still in process, and (iii) the city’s strategy for ensuring access uses a variety of temporary measures on election days, as well as a work plan for more permanent fixes. [Full Story]

Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.

We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.

What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.

We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition. [Full Story]

An Unchallenging School Board Election

Three candidates are running unopposed for the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of trustees. From left: Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalon, xxx

The three candidates running unopposed for the Ann Arbor Public Schools board at a League of Women Voters forum Monday night at CTN studios. From left: Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalan, and Ravi Nigam.

On May 5, voters in Ann Arbor will choose three people to serve on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board. Actually, “choose” might not be the operative word: All three candidates are running unopposed.

Two incumbents – Glenn Nelson and Irene Patalan – are running for four-year terms. Ravi Nigam, a local attorney who has not previously held an elected position, was originally running against Adam Hollier for a two-year term. Hollier has dropped out of the race, though his name will still appear on the ballot.

So rather than the debates they typically hold before local elections, the League of Women Voters instead held a forum Monday evening for the three candidates, asking their opinions on the budget, technology, the achievement gap and a range of other topics. The hour-long event was broadcast live from the Community Television Network studios on South Industrial, and is available to view online.

The league had asked Chronicle readers to suggest questions for the forum, which moderator Judy Mich incorporated to some extent. Here’s a summary of candidates’ responses. [Full Story]

May 5 School Board Elections

During the last election cycle, The Chronicle spent several hours at the Community Television Network studios, watching debates among candidates for various local and state offices. Those debates were held by the League of Women Voters, which holds these events before every local election – and later this month, they’ll be focused on school board candidates for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

This year, the league is asking Chronicle readers to help come up with questions for the board candidates. [Full Story]

“Standby with the music in 5, 4, 3…”

CTN staffer Rob Cross worked the audio during Monday's League of Women Voters debates.

CTN staffer Rob Cross worked the audio during Monday's League of Women Voters debates.

For local election junkies, one of the most reliable ways to get your candidate fix is from the League of Women Voters debates, held before every local election and televised on Community Television Network. This year, The Chronicle took a behind-the-scenes look at the debates, spending Monday evening at CTN’s studios on South Industrial to see exactly what happens off camera. Though the league’s motto is “Because Democracy Isn’t A Spectator Sport,” for The Chronicle that night, it kinda was. (The complete debate schedule, including frequent rebroadcasts, is here. You can find a list of all local candidates for the November election on Washtenaw County’s website.) [Full Story]

Election 2008: Who’s the Sweetest Candid-ate?

Candidate cookies at Jefferson Market & Cakery.

Candidate cookies at Jefferson Market & Cakery. The Chronicle did not ask why McCain's name is printed and Obama is written in cursive.

Combining politics and buttercream frosting – brilliant!

Jefferson Market & Cakery’s Cookie Vote ’08 pits Obama against McCain in the form of sugar cookies iced with red, white and blue frosting and emblazoned with each candidate’s name. As of Wednesday afternoon, Obama was outselling McCain by 66 to 5. [Full Story]

Anatomy of a Recount


The duffel bag containing ballots from precinct 5-4.

Early Tuesday, the lower-level conference room of the County Building at 200 N. Main was filled with the scent of freshly-groomed election inspectors, board of canvassers members, candidates and their volunteer observers, county workers, plus the odor of institutional coffee wafting from a big silver urn. The combination amounted to a distinctive smell, which The Chronicle loves … the smell of democracy in the morning. [Full Story]

Re-count Re-scheduled

The recount of votes cast in the August Democratic primary for the Ward 5 city council seat has been rescheduled for Sept. 9. Originally slated to take place this morning in the basement conference room of the County Building at 200 N. Main St., the recount was moved to Tuesday, Sept. 9, due to a scheduling conflict with the board of canvassers.

The original vote tally put Vivienne Armentrout’s total at 1,552, and Carsten Hohnke’s at 1,610. Six votes were counted for unspecified write-in candidates. Part of The Chronicle’s interest in being physically present at the recount is, if possible, to document what names, if any, were filled in the blank … [Full Story]