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Low voter turnout for primary elections at campus polls

By Steve Zoski, Daily News Editor
Published August 7, 2012

Today’s 90-degree weather, Ann Arbor’s lack of students and low voter turnout at polling stations throughout campus made this primary election Tuesday quite the contrast to the University’s usually chilly, busier November elections.

In the primary today, voters from precincts within campus were able to vote at polling stations such as the Michigan Union, Michigan League, Pierpont Commons, Palmer Commons and the University Coliseum.

As of 3:30 p.m., there was a low turnout at the Union and the League.

At the Union, registered voters from student-heavy precincts such as 1-2, 4-1 and 1-1 could vote, and as of 3:30 p.m., zero votes had been counted at Precinct 1-2, four votes had been counted at Precinct 4-1 and nine votes had been counted at Precinct 1-1.

Several precinct inspectors were at the poll for each precinct.

At the end of the day precinct 1-1 had counted 15 ballots (.77 percent of registered voters). Precinct 1-2 had counted 4 votes (.49 percent of registered voters). Precinct 4-1 had counted 8 ballots (.39 percent of registered voters) while 3-2 had counted 59 ballots (2.79 percent of registered voters).

Officials noted that the low turnout at campus polls was expected with many students home for the summer. In an interview last week, City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry said primary elections during the summer tend to have lower student voter turnouts.

“Obviously we see historically that the predominantly student precincts have a lower turnout in August,” Beaudry said. “A lot of the students are away for the summer.”

Working at the polls for Precinct 1-2 was Ann Arbor resident Carol Simmons.

Simmons, who had a hardcover book alongside her, said she and her co-workers waited all day, but no one came to vote.

“Everything within our lines is campus buildings, so it’s not surprising at the end of the summer,” Simmons said. “Usually we can count on the University president and her husband, but they turned in absentee ballots.”

Simmons said Precinct 1-1 might have had its nine votes because the precinct has some residences in addition to campus buildings.

“I don’t think that it’s just a matter of people not voting; it’s just that nobody’s here,” Simmons said.

Simmons added that her precinct had only three requests for absentee ballots and said many students were probably registered in their hometowns.

Simmons said working last year’s general election in November was a very different experience.

“I worked here in the fall for the last election … and it was pretty exciting. There were a lot of students and a lot of first-time voters who felt the importance of what they were doing. It was cool, so I look forward to November,” Simmons said.

John Yodhes, a precinct election inspector overlooking polls for Precincts 3-1 and 3-2 at the League, said the turnout was lower than what precinct workers had expected.

“Very slow,” Yodhes said. “We’ve had seven voters … that’s even small for what we’ve expected,” Yodhes said.

He added that he’s worked November elections before and said the difference between turnouts at the general election and the summer primary is like “night and day.”