WARREN, Mich. — Despite concerns over the potential for malfunctioning voting machines and erroneous challenges to voters’ eligibility, clerks, poll workers, and voters throughout southeast Michigan said they experienced a smooth Election Day with almost none of the anticipated problems.
Those at the polls yesterday in Detroit and Macomb County said that despite long lines in some places and some minor problems with voting machines, the day went off without a hitch.
In Macomb County, poll workers reported unprecedented turnout and a willingness on the part of voters to wait in the longest lines the county has ever experienced.
As of early Wednesday morning, nearly 80% of registered Macomb voters went to the polls Tuesday.
Poll workers throughout the county said they saw no evidence of political operatives from either party using foreclosure lists to challenge the eligibility of some voters.
In September, the Michigan Messenger quoted James Carabelli, chair of the Macomb County Republican Party, as saying “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.”
Carabelli later said those quotes were falsified and has filed a lawsuit against the Messenger.
Macomb had federal poll monitors watching its election precincts. The Department of Justice chose Macomb as one of 59 jurisdictions in 23 states where federal workers would monitor the polls. It was the only county in Michigan chosen.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Deputy City Clerk Sonja Buffa said the use of foreclosure lists to challenge voter eligibility hadn’t been a problem. The only problem she cited was the “gigantic” turnout in her county.
“This is the busiest election in history,” she said.
Ron Hood, a building engineer at Warren Woods Tower High School in Warren, said people started lining up at his polling place as early as 6:15 a.m. and that by 6:30 a.m. the line was out the front door.
“Before 7:00, there was 150 people waiting in line, easy,” Hood said.
The lines continued through the morning, according to poll workers at Warren Woods Tower.
At 3:00 p.m., one poll worker, who wouldn’t give his name because he was not authorized to talk to the press, held up a bundle of 500 votes from one of the three precincts inside the high school and smiled.
“It’s been crazy,” he said of the whole day.
Hood said the only problem at Warren Woods Tower was confusion between the three precincts all housed in the same building. But he said those problems subsided as the number of people voting at once diminished.
A precinct supervisor at a Warren middle school, who wouldn’t give her name because she didn’t have the authority to talk to the press, said there were long lines but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“The lines are long — people are coming out to vote for the presidency,” she said. “Lines are good because they mean people are coming to vote.”
Karen Amato, a poll observer for the Michigan Election Commission, said there has been an astounding level of turnout in Macomb.
“At the 3 different Warren Woods sites I’ve been to, of the 1,200 people expected to vote, already 400 had voted before 1:00,” she said.
She said the only problem she saw was a lack of supplies at some of the polling places.
Meanwhile in Detroit, poll workers also experienced long lines, but with relatively few other problems.
Poll workers at Central United Methodist Church, which houses two precincts, said the biggest rush was from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. as people tried to vote before heading to work. After that, there continued to be a steady trickle of voters throughout the day, the poll workers said.
Alfred Kirkland, a poll worker at Central United Methodist Church, said the only real problem was people showing up at the wrong precinct. But Kirkland said the church shuttled those people to their correct precincts.
— Daily Staff Reporter Trevor Calero contributed to this report.