Letter to the Editor: Voter turnout rates in Ann Arbor are difficult to measure


Published November 12, 2012

I am a Daily alum from about 40 years ago and still live in Ann Arbor. I’ve been active in local politics ever since. Your Friday lead story about the campus votereally missed the mark. Its conclusion is based on comparing two totally different statistics. You compared the results of an exit poll showing that 49 percent of people under 30 voted this year with the percentage of registered voters turning out in campus precincts. First, “under 30” and campus precincts don't correlate, since the age range in campus precincts is likely to skew significantly younger than the total under-30 population. ‘’

More importantly, the percentage of registered voters turning out is an almost meaningless number, particularly in student precincts. Because students move in and out of Ann Arbor so frequently, there is a tremendous amount of “deadwood” on the voter rolls in student precincts — people who are still listed there, but have moved away. Many may have registered elsewhere, but the old registrations are frequently not cancelled. Also, a significant number of University students are registered at their parents’ homes, especially since Michigan requires that your voting address and driver’s license address be the same.

From many years of experience in working the student precincts, including this year, I can tell you that an extremely small percentage of students registered to vote here, who are actually still living here, fail to vote in a Presidential election. I would also be willing to bet that more than 49 percent of University students voted either in Ann Arbor or at “home” last week, though that’s a hard number to pin down.

There are very few Ann Arborites who are eligible to vote who aren’t registered here or elsewhere, and their turnout rate for presidential elections probably exceeds 90 percent.

Tom Wieder
University alum