In the first major election since the passage of Proposal 3, which allows same-day voter registration, hundreds waited in line for upwards of two hours to cast their ballot in Tuesday’s presidential primary.
City Hall was the only location in Ann Arbor where people could change their voting registrations. Those who register at City Hall were allowed to vote there as well, whether or not it was their designated polling location.
Residents first became eligible for same-day registration when Proposal 3 passed in 2018. Prop. 3, in an effort to increase voter turnout and accessibility, included provisions for automatic voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.
Engineering sophomore Ranadeep Mitra waited in line for two and a half hours, and though he said it was a “pain,” he’s glad he voted.
“I feel like it’s my civic duty,” Mitra said. “I honestly probably wouldn’t have voted if I had known it would take this long, but by the time I had gotten halfway through, I decided just to stay because I had already wasted so much time here.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a candidate in Tuesday’s primary, issued a statement in a press release condemning long lines to vote.
“At a time when Democrats correctly attack Republicans for voter suppression, it is disappointing to see people standing in long lines for hours today waiting to vote in Michigan and around the country,” Sanders said in the statement. “People should not have to miss a day of work to exercise their right to vote. This is an outrage. Election officials must address these problems immediately, and if necessary, keep polling places open longer.”
Mitra said he wished there were more locations to register in Ann Arbor to reduce the length of the lines.
Many University of Michigan students in line said they were willing to wait because they feel their vote matters more in Michigan than in their home state, given its status as a swing state. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has an out of state population of nearly 15,000, as of 2019. President Donald Trump won Michigan by just over 10,000 votes in 2016.
Engineering senior Viktoriya Kovalchuk had been waiting in line to register for more than an hour by the time she got inside the building. She said those in line were given the registration forms so they could begin filling them out.
Kovalchuk emphasized the importance of voting and said she wanted to change her registration to Michigan because it is a swing state.
“It’s worth it,” Kovalchuk said. “I know Michigan is a swing state, and I’m from Arizona, and it’s not a swing state. So, I’d rather vote here. … (The wait time) is not ideal, but I think it’s worth it in the end. It’s a priority for me to vote, and I just became a citizen recently.”
Business freshman Grace Manella recently turned 18 and voted for the first time on Tuesday. She said she chose to register in Michigan instead of her home state of Kentucky.
“I think it’s important to vote because it’s exciting that, when you’re younger, everyone’s voting and you can’t really participate,” Manella said. “I feel like once you can, you have this kind of civic duty where you feel like you should. It’s exciting to kind of feel like you’re a part of the system.”
LSA senior Danielle Boilen previously voted with an absentee ballot from New York but chose to register in Michigan for this election.
“I did absentee when I voted in the last election, and I think it’s awesome that I can register here on the day of,” Boilen said. “I think that’s a great thing that Michigan does.”
Rackham student Amanda Peiffer said she originally got in the line to register to vote, but only needed to vote. She said she wished there were more workers at City Hall to help the large crowd navigate.
“I think that everyone should be able to vote, but I think that this is nuts that the line is astronomical. It’s just another polling place that does not run correctly. I think this is why a lot of people don’t vote. … We need more staff,” Peiffer said. “There’s just clearly not enough people working. People are talking about online voting. I think that’d be awesome. I think about the people getting sick and stuff with the coronavirus. How are they going to vote?”
LSA senior Teddy Kiernan came to City Hall to change his ballot from Independent to Democrat. This is the second presidential election he has been able to vote in.
“My first election I voted in was the general election 2016 for the president,” Kiernan said. “Beyond that, I haven’t participated in any other elections. … Between the two options (in 2016), I wasn’t thrilled with either. I’m hoping to vote for one person here that can stand a fighting chance in the general election.”
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