Posted: January 15, 2008 7:23 PM
Turnout Looks to Be Light in Snowy Michigan Primary
Michigan poll workers appeared to be lonelier Tuesday than their counterparts in Iowa and New Hampshire were during their early nominating contests.
While state officials were expecting a 20 percent turnout for the presidential primary, some clerks predicted the majority of votes will come from absentee ballots, the Detroit Free Press reported. Clerks said snowy weather and a non-race among Democrats seemed to keep the crowds away.
Voters didn’t gripe about not being able to write in their favorite Democratic candidate after Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards withdrew their names from the ballot. But several were upset about having to ask for a political party-specific ballot, which would identify if they had voted Republican or Democratic.
“Some voters thought that was unconstitutional,” Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter told the Freep. “And they ended up voting under protest.”
Precincts in other parts of Wolverine State reported similar low turnouts.
“It’s probably going to be something like a school board election,” said Inez Brown, clerk in heavily Democratic Flint. Brown said the equipment in Flint’s 61 precincts has worked properly and voters seem to understand that the not all the candidates are on the Democratic ballot.
In a trend that could bode well for Michigan native Mitt Romney and poorly for Arizona Sen. John McCain, fewer independents and Democrats voted in Tuesday’s Republican primary than eight years ago, according voter surveys by The Associated Press and TV networks.
This year’s GOP contest in Michigan, a state that has open primaries, had a much more normal partisan split, with a solid majority of Republicans and far fewer Democrats, the AP reported.
The economy proved the most important issue for Republicans in Michigan, the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation and an ailing auto industry.
Given four choices, half of Michigan Republican primary voters picked the economy as the most important issue, while one in five picked Iraq, one in seven selected immigration and one in 10 identified terrorism.
McCain and Romney were in a tight race for 30 delegates, while Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, trailed both in pre-primary polling.
Here are some eyewitness accounts from the polls today, courtesy of Freep staffers.
One particular gem: “One woman did complain that she did not receive an ‘I voted’ sticker as in the past.”