Polls close for most of Michigan as residents decide on issues

Warren — Polls have now closed in most of Michigan's counties as voters have been deciding on a myriad of bond and ballot issues as well as mayoral races. 

For complete results as they come in, visit our results page

John Agee, 78, was among the first to vote early Tuesday morning at the Fitzgerald Recreation Center in Warren.

Voters like Agee in communities across Michigan will be electing municipal officials, deciding local ballot issues and choosing whether to approve funding requests from school districts in Tuesday's general election.

Tara Slater of Allen Park fills in her ballot as her children Liam, 2, and Kate, 4, enjoy their lollipops at the Frank Lada Community Center in Allen Park on Tuesday.

Agee has been a Michiganian for 56 years and a Warren resident for 42, and has voted every time he’s had the opportunity.

“I count it a privilege to be born in this country and have the right to be heard,” Agee said. “A lot of countries, you don’t get no say. You don’t get no vote.”

Despite having the ability to vote absentee without having to offer a reason — a right Michigan voters gave themselves in 2018 — he opted to wait until Election Day.

“It just ain’t the same,” Agee said about the prospect of casting his ballot from home.

Despite a mayoral and city council election on the ballot in Warren, it wasn’t any particular issue that drew Agee out, he said, as much as the right to weigh in on those issues.

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Voters in Allen Park and Lincoln Park expressed strong opinions at the polls Tuesday about whether to allow businesses to sell marijuana in their cities.

Larry Montre, 78, of Lincoln Park had no qualms about providing his opinion.

“I voted no on marijuana businesses in our city because I think it’s just opening Pandora’s box,” he said after voting inside the Kennedy Memorial Building on Ferris in Lincoln Park. “California is having big problems with it right now. I don’t know why people need that kind of stimulus in the first place.”

Ilona Sakey, 64, of Lincoln Park said she voted yes.

“I think we should be able to have the right to buy it in Lincoln Park,” she said.

Asked if that included both medical marijuana and for recreational use, she responded, “Of course!”

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Warren public works manager Sean Clark will spend 13 hours outside extending greetings to voters on behalf of his boss, Mayor Jim Fouts, who is up for re-election against Warren City Councilwoman Kelly Colegio.

Volunteer Barbara Winter of Hazel Park, stands outside the Ferndale Public Library 
 with signs supporting her candidates.

“I just try to meet and greet people as they come in, and be polite and respectful,” Clark said as he thanked a voter for showing up.

Roseann Manns, 38, moved to Warren eight years ago from Hazel Park in search of more affordable living.

Manns said she once supported Fouts but soured on him over time, feeling he doesn't represent everyone in the city. 

As Manns dropped her son off at a nearby school, he reminded her: “go vote.”

Corrie Biddulph is serving her first election as voter chairperson for Warren’s first precinct.

As soon as the polls opened, voters approached Biddulph with questions or commentary on the value of voter ID cards.

What makes someone volunteer for a minimum 13-hour Election Day leadership role?

“I like being around people,” she said.

In Allen Park,  nearly all the precincts were consolidated into the Allen Park Community Center. David Peters, 69, voted yes on the measure to allow marijuana businesses.

“I read that it lowers crime,” he said.

Asked if he thought the measure would pass in Allen Park, he said no. “I think Allen Park is a little too conservative."

Tom Clark, 59, of Allen Park voted no.

“There already are a lot of dispensaries around, and do we really need another one here?” he asked.

Jorge DeLuna, 63, of Allen Park said he’s for it, “as long as it is for medical use,” he said. “I don’t care for recreational use. There has to be some kind of limit.”

Terry Warrick, 77, of Allen Park said he voted yes.

“If I could tolerate the smoke, it might relieve the discomfort in my hip,” he said.

Under a statewide proposal approved last year, voters may register and vote up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. A prospective voter can register in person with his or her township or city clerk and then vote at the designated polling place. 

Judy Davids demonstrates the selfie stand at Royal Oak’s fifth and ninth precincts.

Judy Davids is at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, which is housing the city's Fifth and Ninth voting precincts. 

Davids said she took an oath to serve as a precinct chair to the best of her ability.

But she’s confident that even if an issue did arise, there are enough safeguards in place that every legitimate vote would be counted.

A test of that theory came in the 9 a.m. hour. An older man showed up to vote, but he had already voted absentee a month prior.

The earlier vote was flagged in the system, leaving two choices: spoil the earlier ballot and cast a new one, or live with the choices made a month ago. The would-be voter chose the latter and left.

Davids’ day started about 6 a.m., when she and her team arrived at the Farmers Market on 11 Mile east of Main Street. 

More from Royal Oak

If all voters registered to the precincts show up, there could have been 4,300 voters rolling through between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. But that wouldn't happen with absentee voting, a non-presidential, non-congressional election — not even seats in the state Legislature are up for grabs.

Election Day staff wrote their voter turnout estimates before the polls opened. They range from 258 on the low end to 875 on the high end, with most coming in the 300-400 range.

Allen Park residents locate their precinct at the Frank Lada Community Center in Allen Park
on Tuesday.

As the 10 a.m. hour drew near, the voter count was approaching 150.

Davids, who works at Royal Oak City Hall and had to take a vacation day to serve as precinct chair, described the election process as “intense,” and said she spent the night before studying the ins and outs and what-ifs “like it was final exams.”

The day is long, but its reaches max intensity after polls close. That’s when ballot boxes must be turned over to the city clerk’s office for counting.

“When people doubt our election process, it makes me sad because we’re checked every step of the way,” Davids said, including a requirement that one Republican and one Democrat verify the materials sent over to city hall. “My first year I didn’t do it right and it was a nightmare. This is at the end of a long day when everyone wants to go home.”

Even so, Davids said that “at the end of tonight I'll go to bed and rest easy knowing that any mistake I can possibly make can be remedied.”

Her biggest fear is some kind of “technological glitch”in the vote-counting process. She keeps the city clerk on speed dial for any issue that comes up that wasn’t covered in the training sessions, her studies, her years of experience or the many folders of material provided Election Day staffers.

In addition to the usual “I Voted” stickers, voters can try out a so-called selfie stand. This is in lieu of taking ballot selfies that are still in murky legal status in Michigan.

Davids notes that the selfie stand seemed to be more popular among couples and families than for individuals.

Brandon Hall of Ferndale votes while his son Winston, 8, (left), waits at the poll location in the Ferndale Public Library.,

Rachel Pedraza, 43, said she wishes this were Election Day 2020, when America gets another chance to choose its president. When that day comes, she hopes it will choose differently, denying President Donald Trump a second term. 

But on Tuesday she was content for a dry run during a local election. With daughter Kaia, 7, off school so Royal Oak schools could serve as polling places, she was able to tag-along — though she declined to smile for the selfie.

“You can’t complain if you don’t actually vote,” Pedraza said. “And voting is actually the least you can do."

But she still feels it’s important and hopes to convey that to Kaia.

“Every voice matters and they should go out and vote regardless of if they're happy or not with the current situation,” Pedraza said. “We have the privilege of being white, and female. So a lot of times when people have those privileges they just think things don't affect them.”

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