Voters’ first choice: Which ballot?
Voters in Empire and Centerville Townships will have tough decisions when they go to the polls on Tuesday.
The first is to decide whether to forgo voting in their township races in favor of having a say in county races.
Democrats dominate candidates for the offices of treasurer in Empire and trustee in Centerville.
The same dilemma faces voters who want to cast ballots in the 101st state House race between Allen O’Shea of Copemish and Derek Bailey, former Tribal Chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa, who now resides in Beulah. To do so, they’ll have to forgo all contested county races, which are dominated by Republican candidates.
“You can’t split your ticket,” county Clerk Michelle Crocker said. “If you do, the ballot will be rejected by the voting machine.”
There are 19,262 residents registered to cast ballots in Leelanau County.
Poll book totals from the August 2008 Primary reflect a 37 percent voter turnout for that election.
“I’m hoping for better than that,” Crocker said, adding that the 2004 Primary had a 45 percent turnout. That year, Leland Township led the county with a 59 percent turnout. The sliver of the county that lies within the City of Traverse City was low with 13 percent. “I’d anticipate (turnout) being very high because of the number of races,” Crocker said. “We usually lead the state in participation and I’d like to see this continue.”
There are races in two townships for supervisor — Leland and Leelanau and three for trustee — Centerville, Leland and Leelanau. In addition, three Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination or township treasurer in Empire Township.
If that’s not enough to get voters to the polls there are millage proposals for fire and rescue services offered by Cedar Fire and Rescue in four townships: Centerville, Solon, Kasson and Leelanau townships.
The Suttons Bay-Bingham Fire & Rescue Authority is asking for 2.3 mills for three years to fund operations and equipment purchases.
Leelanau Township voters will consider a 2-mill request for its fire department. In addition, Leelanau Township voters will also decide the fate of a .4745-mill renewal request for the general fund.
The only countywide issue on the ballot is a request from the county Road Commission for .50 mills for road and highway maintenance.
Due to a clerical error, that proposal was not included on the first ballots received by the county that were initially sent to voters seeking absentee ballots.
That caused township clerks to have to collect the first ballots, which were destroyed and replaced with those that included the Road Commission proposal.
“We got a couple calls from people who said they wouldn’t have voted on the Road Commission request anyway, so we just made sure no second ballots sent to them,” Crocker explained.
As of Tuesday, more than 1,100 absentee ballots had been sent out to voters in four of the county’s 11 townships. Elmwood Township had the highest number out (520) and the highest percentage of ballots already cast — some 14 percent of 3,920 registered voters.
Most county residents going to the polls will for the first time see new equipment in use by election inspectors.
“There’s a machine that they can slide your identification through which will bring up your registration information on the screen,” Crocker said. “We had some out before, but this election is the first where they’ll be in use by all townships.”
Those without driver’s licenses are asked to provide identification in the form of a Michigan ID card or passport to verify “they are who they say they are,” the Clerk said.
“I hope everyone will be patient with the election workers as many will be using it for the first time,” Crocker said.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters in nine of the 11 townships will be casting ballots at their township hall. Voters in Leland Township will go to the polls at Leland Public School. Their counterparts in Suttons Bay Township will be voting at Suttons Bay School. Those living in the annexed portion of Elmwood Township that lies within the City of Traverse City vote at 10200 E. Carter Centre, Traverse City.
New voting equipment will also allow precincts to send in their tallies via modem, rather than calling them as in the past.
“That way there will be less opportunity to transpose numbers,” Crocker said.
Those following the vote closely can monitor the results as they are posted on the county website www.leelanau.cc and going to clerk and clicking on elections.