Polls close after Election Day with few issues but long lines

Breana Noble Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

After record-setting turnouts, the polls have closed in Michigan and voting has come to an end with few issues reported but a long wait for results expected as ballots are tallied. 

There were no major reports of voter suppression or violence though voting was still a challenge for some Metro Detroit residents given the pandemic and the turnout. 

In some places, lines were long, like in Dearborn where residents said they waited for two hours to register and vote. But for many people, like the man who offered folding chairs for those in line at the Northwest Activities Center on Detroit’s west side, it was a chance to come together as Americans doing a civic duty. 

In Paw Paw Township, Twitter posts showed people still waiting in a line out of the door to cast their votes around 10:17 p.m.

After Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel revealed that some Flint residents were receiving robocalls telling them to vote tomorrow to avoid long lines, the FBI announced an investigation into the spreading of false information. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Twitter that over 92% of absentee ballots were returned and more than 24,000 citizens registered and voted on Tuesday, with a majority of them from Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.

The state believes at least 2 million people will have voted in person Tuesday.

Even as they came together to cast ballots, six feet apart, voters remained as divided as ever on the presidential candidates. 

Angie Parks, a 41-year-old appraiser in Rochester, opted to vote in-person to ensure there were no mishaps. She says she voted for Trump because "I think he is someone who has gotten things done instead of talking about it."

The mother of teenagers agrees with Trump that schools should be able to reopen, especially since COVID-19 typically affects the elderly to a greater degree than children, and the flu is more dangerous for them. "If Biden has this great plan, then where is it?" Parks added.

Sam Baker, 32, of Southfield is an auto worker for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Toledo plant, building Jeeps. He voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

Angie Parks

“We’ve seen four years of Trump,” Baker said. “Let’s see what Joe Biden can do.”

Trump’s leadership has proven to be a failure based on his response to the pandemic: “He knew what the virus was, and he didn’t tell the truth,” Baker said. “When it comes to getting past this and getting a vaccine, I think Biden can get that for us.”

Avery Langowski, a 19-year-old student from Rochester, voted for the first time, casting his ballot for Trump. "I'm a Republican and grew up in a Republican household," he said.

Jonathan Popis, a 28-year-old packaging engineer, said gun rights and long overseas wars were some of his top issues this year. He's impressed with Trump's ability to reach peace deals in the Middle East.

Jonathan Popis

"Joe Biden scares me, to be honest," Popis said, "with just the amount of corruption. There's the reports that his son used his influence as vice president to enrich the family. I want to see an end to foreign influence."

He adds that he thinks Trump's response to COVID-19 "is the best anyone could have done," and his frustrations lie more at the state level where it took eight weeks to obtain an unemployment check.

Detroit absentee ballots are processed at TCF Center, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

The state deployed about 25 reserve poll workers to Grand Rapids, Pontiac, Inkster, Detroit, Westland, Dearborn and Kalamazoo Township, said Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

“Even though we are expecting high turnout today, that high turnout is still less than what we saw in 2016 in terms of in-person voting at polling places,”  Rollow said. “That was part of the strategy … spread voting out over time so that people are not in crowds and in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time.”

Voters in Dearborn line up to cast their ballots at the administration offices on Michigan Avenue.

Robert Walker, a 57-year-old teacher from Detroit, donned a Make America Great Again cap and a Trump-Pence T-shirt on Tuesday.

"I think this is the greatest election in the history of our country," Walker said. "It is good vs. evil. It is democracy and capitalism vs. socialism and communism. I am a black man proudly voting for Donald Trump."

It is Trump's policies he says that he supports that contributed to the lowest unemployment rate for African Americans on record last year.

Walker

"I've heard about reparations for slavery all my life. These are the reparations, the Platinum Plan," he said, grabbing a flier that touts Trump's commitment to increase access to capital in black communities by almost $500 billion over the next four years, creating black-owned businesses, ensuring safe urban neighborhoods and incentivizing U.S. manufacturing.

Anthony Ashford, 29, of Detroit was at Northwestern High School, where a steady stream of vehicles kept the place busy. He said it's important for citizens to make their voices heard. He cast his ballot for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and says the most important issue for him is the handling of the pandemic.

Residents wait to cast their vote at the Armada Area Schools administration building in Armada early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

"We don't have a national response, and hundreds of thousands of people have died," Ashford said. "We have all the tools and resources, but we need new leadership."

More:Here's how to cast your ballot by 8 p.m.

More:Trump visits, long voting lines key moments in pivotal election

Daja Jones, 21, votes for the first time in her life on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Tuesday was the first time Daja Jones was voting.

"It was nerve-wracking, but pretty cool," the 21-year-old retail worker said. "I want to make my voice heard, but it's a lot, if you're not plugged into every aspect of it."

She chose to vote in-person at the recommendation of her mother: "My mom is old-school. It's the way she has always done it."

Across the country, nearly 100 million Americans had already cast ballots by Tuesday. That’s the result of an election system that has been reshaped by the worst pandemic in a century, prompting many voters to take advantage of advance voting rather than head to polling places in person at a time when coronavirus cases are rising.

Crissy Childress, 39, of Detroit is a health-care worker and her employer told her she had to show proof she cast her ballot, she said.

Childress

"At the end of the day, no president has done anything that has affected what I can do," she said Tuesday morning as she waited at Northwestern.

Childress said she wrote in a name for president: former Democratic candidate and businessman Andrew Yang, because she liked his ideas, felt like he wanted to help people and wasn't a typical politician.

"They're the same-old, same-old," Childress said of Biden and Trump. "They've done nothing different than what I can remember in 30 years since Reagan."

Childress said she did vote for Peters over James, saying she thought the Republican challenger came off as "fake" and "puppeted."

When will results be known? Absentee and advance voting have changed the vote-counting timeline, and there aren’t uniform practices for counting across the states. That makes it difficult to predict when certain key battlegrounds might be called.

For example, Pennsylvania and Michigan – battlegrounds Trump won by less than 1 percentage point in 2016 – aren’t expected to have complete totals for days. Florida and North Carolina, meanwhile, began processing early ballots ahead of time, with officials there forecasting earlier unofficial returns. But those two states also could have razor-thin margins.

Workers at the TCF Center in Detroit count ballots Tuesday morning, Nov. 3, 2020, as the votes continue to roll in.

Joe Dew, a 27-year-old truck driver in Detroit, voted in-person because it's what he's always done. 

"I want Trump out of office," Dew said. "I don't like how he has handled corona. That was the tipping point for me."

Ivory Black, 57, of Detroit wore a Biden-Harris shirt while distributing campaign literature outside the Catherine Blackwell Institute. He had voted absentee, but he made sure to drop his ballot off at the city clerk's office.

"I didn't want to send it through mail," Black said. "I said, 'No, I don't trust this.'"