Trickling out of the Michigan Union’s doors and wrapping
around the corners of the hallways in the residence halls,
seemingly endless lines of University students eager to cast their
ballots marked the climax of one of the most politicized elections
Ann Arbor polling sites endured the outpouring of students in an
election that expected to turn out more student voters than in the
last 10 years, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
“This is an unbelievable turnout although its making
things extremely hectic,” said Mike Roth, an election chair
of an East Quad polling site.
The fear of lawsuits or challenges over ballots appeared
overstated. Chris Paolino, spokesman for the Michigan Republican
Party, said the party was suing Detroit for trying to remove poll
challengers from polling sites, but he added that the party would
likely not challenge any votes in Michigan.
Besides the occasional jamming of the ballot scanners, many
students across Ann Arbor polling sites, they encountered no extra
problems in obtaining their ballots. They added that there were no
groups attempting to disenfranchise voters at polling sites said.
Voter monitors and lawyers from both the Republican and Democratic
parties, as well as non-partisan groups, helped ensure the
integrity of the polling process.
Still, some voters left their polling sites frustrated that
their ballots may not count in the election, as they were forced to
cast a provisional ballot at the polls.
Highlighting the situation were reports from students and
various campus polling locations that some students who registered
to vote through the Voice Your Vote commission were missing from
their location’s voter registry. Students not on the registry
were allowed to cast a provisional ballot, which will then be
counted if the voter submitted a ballot to the correct
Having registered through Voice Your Vote, a voter advocacy
group, LSA senior Hannah Roberts balked when election officials
told her she was not registered in her Ann Arbor precinct but in
her hometown of Foxville, Michigan.
“It’s ridiculous. It shouldn’t have to be such
a horrible process,” she said.
Campus polling sites at the Michigan Union Mary Markley and East
Quad residence halls each reported about a dozen provisional
ballots handed to students who registered with Voice Your Vote.
Despite the accounts, Voice Your Vote said it registered 10,038
students, signaling that the problem was small-scale, said Pete
Woiwode, co-chair of Voice Your Vote.
Woiwode, an LSA senior, added that his student group followed
Michigan voter guidelines and submitted all applications by hand to
the Ann Arbor City Clerk’s office before the Oct. 4
He added that the group would get in touch with the city clerk
today to offer copies of registration to get those votes
For now, the clerk’s office can only speculate that either
the voters’ names were misspelled or they missed the deadline
for registration, said Ann Arbor research clerk Chris Kallas.
But Ann Arbor’s problems were miniscule compared to the
voting complications in Detroit polling locations breakdowns in the
polling process were relatively pervasive.
At Immanuel Lutheran Church in Detroit, election workers and
volunteers said aggressive Republican vote monitors overstepped
polling site rules by asking waiting voters to show identification
— which is illegal for challengers to do.
But Michael McShea, a Republican challenger, argued that these
officials were essentially stripped of their right to oversee the
vote. “A poll challenger should be able to look at the whole
process. We were told that we were not able to stand behind the
voter registration table and check (voters’) IDs. They
essentially emasculated us,” he said.
Other incidences of voter intimidation boiled over when
challengers voting at Jefferson Middle School in Pontiac were so
aggressive that police were brought in to control them, said LSA
sophomore Justin Bean, who was volunteering in Immanuel Lutheran
Church with Voice Your Vote.
In addition to overzealous challengers, organization was also a
problem in polling locations such as Cleveland Middle School in
Detroit. Republican challenger Mike Laginess said because the
middle school held two precincts, voters were confused as to which
line correlated with their precinct. As a result, many voters
waited in the wrong line for an hour or so before being redirected
to the line of their proper precinct.