Election Law @ Moritz

2006 Election Overview

2006 Elections Overview

Overview of Michigan Voting Process in November, 2006

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Michgan’s November election went fairly well.  Michigan did experience scattered technology and supply problems, but generally none that prevented voting or prevented polling places from opening on time. 

Perhaps the most serious problems involved improper conduct at polling places.  Republicans obtained an injunction against Democratic poll challengers voters allegedly mistook for officials, while Democrats alleged two unidentified individuals impersonated elections officials and intimidated voters.

Technology problems

In Washington County, the County Clerk stated they experienced problems with “tabulators” breaking down and voters having their registrations challenged for no good reason.  Insider’s view of Election Day, Ann Arbor News, November 12, 2006.

In Saginaw, moisture made some paper ballots expand and jam voting machines in five precincts.  Williams could demand recount, Saginaw News, November 10, 2006.  Election workers brought new machines to two of the precincts.  Also in Saginaw, a candidate for state office alleged that “a malfunction of… [a voting machine] was observed” at one precinct.  Pair seek recounts, Saginaw News, November 23, 2006.

Supply problems

In Thomas Township, some precincts ran out of ballots and were forced to use photocopies of ballots.  Williams could demand recount, Saginaw News, November 10, 2006.  In the meantime, election workers turned voters away from the polls, telling them to return later.  Turnout forces count by hand, Saginaw News, November 8, 2006.  When the makeshift ballots finally arrived, the optical scanners would not accept them, so workers had to count them by hand.  They finished the task at 5:30 a.m.  Candidates for state representative in the affected precincts filed recount petitions, perhaps in part due to the irregularity.  Three recounts begin next week, Saginaw News, December 7, 2006.  The Township recorded 277 undervotes in the affected race, and officials speculated that these could have been caused by ballot shortage and subsequent hand count.  Undervotes make recount necessary, Saginaw News, December 5, 2006.

Voters in Flint Township reported slow voting due to lack of folders used to deposit ballots after they are cast.  Voter questions early slow voting, Flint Journal, November 8, 2006.  The township clerk supplied additional folders later in the day. 

In the Bay City School District, workers accidentally distributed some school district ballots to voters who did not live in the school district.  Turnout forces count by hand, Saginaw News, November 8, 2006.  Officials indicated the number of incorrectly distributed ballots was no more than sixty.  The district also ran out of ballots for voters registered in the town of Buena Vista.  It took about twenty minutes before extras arrived.

Polling places opening late

The Michigan GOP issued a statement criticizing one Ann Arbor polling place for opening five minutes late.  Local voter turnout steady, Ann Arbor News, November 8, 2006.  No other reports of late openings could be found.

Inappropriate polling place activity

Republicans obtained an injunction preventing Democratic poll challengers from initiating contact with voters at polling places.  Judge issues restraining order against Dems over poll challengers, AP Alert, November 7, 2006.  The challengers had been wearing orange vests that said “Don’t Leave Without Voting.  I Can Help You.” Republicans claimed this was misleading voters into thinking the challengers were election officials.  The suit also alleged the practice violated instructions promulgated by the Michigan Secretary of State that prohibited challengers from approaching voters.

In a separate incident, the NAACP claimed that two men claiming to be elections officials presented false identification, touched poll books and voting equipment, and interfered with poll workers.  Judge issues restraining order against Dems over poll challengers, AP Alert, November 7, 2006.  The NAACP claimed these men repeated their actions at another polling place later that day.

Miscellaneous items

  • Michigan scored a state record for voter turnout in a non-presidential year, with fifty-three percent (3.8 million) of registered voters appearing to vote.  Voter turnout in Bay County a strong 59 percent, Bay City Times, November 10, 2006.  The previous record was 3.2 million. 
  • Some voters were upset by anonymous robo-calls paid for by unidentified groups and campaigns.  Who is it?  Robo-calls don’t say, Grand Rapids Press, October 31, 2006.  The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill in September to require the entities behind these calls to identify themselves, but it has not yet cleared the Senate.
  • Some voters were unpleasantly surprised when their absentee ballots were returned for insufficient postage.  Don’t skimp on ballot postage, Ann Arbor News, October 27, 2006.  Ballots in Ann Arbor and other areas required sixty-three cents of postage, not the thirty-nine cents many voters assumed.  Postal authorities eventually agreed to forward the ballots regardless of postage.
  • The Detroit branch of the NAACP placed monitors at Detroit polling places to guard against voter intimidation and suppression.  Detroit Branch NAACP is Prepared to Protect the Vote, PR Newswire, November 6, 2006.
  • Republicans deployed about 2,000 Michigan poll challengers, and Democrats deployed about 1,000.  Keeping watch, Grand Rapids Press, November 5, 2006.
  • A candidate in Michigan’s 61st District House race alleged that some poll workers gave voters inaccurate instructions on how to fill out their ballots.  Rogers asks for recount in her race against Hoogendyk for House seat, Kalamazoo Gazette, November 28, 2006.  The candidate filed for a recount after the certified results showed her tally slightly behind that of her opponent.
  • According to electionline.org, the Cadillac News reported the vote count in Osceola County was delayed when poll workers improperly double-scanned write-in ballots through voting machines.  Bureau of Elections called to resolve Reed City precinct issues, The Cadillac News, November 8, 2006.
  • For other litigation surrounding the November election, see Major Pending Cases or the Major Pending Cases Archives.