Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

Michigan voters re-elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder for another term in office. Democrat Gary Peters also won his bid for U.S. Senate beating out Republican Terri Lynn Land.

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, joined me to talk about Michigan's election results. Here's our conversation:

Ups and downs in voter turnout in Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The number we're talking about is the percentage of the population old enough to vote.

Less than half of those people showed up at the polls on Election Day in Michigan.

Voter turnout for this year's election came in at 41.6%. In Michigan's last gubernatorial election four years ago, 42.9% of the voting age population turned up to vote.

Michigan's secretary of state's office reports that about 3.2 million votes were cast Tuesday - around 83,000 fewer than in the 2010 midterm election.

To find a lower turnout stat for midterm or presidential elections, you have to go back to 1990 in Michigan.

Here's a chart showing the history of voter turnout in Michigan since 1948. It shows gubernatorial election years and presidential election years. Presidential elections traditionally draw more people to the polls - hence the zig-zag. (The Pew Research Center has more on why that is.)

The chart:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Now that Republicans have strengthened their control of the Michigan Legislature, one analyst expects a fight to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

Republicans picked up four seats in the state House on Tuesday, expanding their majority to 63 of the 110 seats. Republicans also added a state Senate seat.The GOP will hold a 27-to-11 margin in the Senate when the next session begins in 2015.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry review Election Day in Michigan including voter turnout, victories and disappointments for both parties, and what yesterday’s results could mean for the next four years.


This cartogram depicts 2012 election results. It's a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Here are the election results for the races we're watching here at Michigan Radio.

Please go to your county's election page for more detailed results in your area.

You can also find information about the races not listed below on the Secretary of State's general elections website.

Winners will be in bold.

(NPR has national results here.)

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Public School voters have rejected a proposal to annex Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

Scott Menzel heads the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

He says it's hard to know what will happen next.

“We've got an Ann Arbor (School) Board election. They'll have at least two new board members on the board and they'll have to decide what they want to do,” Menzel said. “With respect to Whitmore Lake, they're going to go back to the drawing board and do what they need to stay out of deficit.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids, Flint and Kalamazoo approved changes to their city charters.

Kalamazoo voters approved proposals that will change the way their mayor and city commissioners are elected. The mayor will be elected separately from the rest of the city commission and commissioners will serve longer terms.

Flint voters split on six proposed changes to the way their city runs. Voters rejected proposals to eliminate the city’s ombudsman office, the city’s civil service commission and several departments.   

USFWS

Michigan voters rejected a pair of referenda on state laws authorizing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Wolf hunt opponents celebrated tonight.  

“The people of Michigan have shown that they don’t want the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves,” says Jill Fritz with the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

But this may just be a pyrrhic victory for wolf hunting opponents. The results of Tuesday’s vote amount to a non-binding referendum.

Marijuana plant.
bobdoran / Flickr

BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) - Voters in three southeastern Michigan communities have passed marijuana possession proposals.

Unofficial results on the Oakland County elections website say the proposals were approved Tuesday in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

Results weren't immediately available late Tuesday in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Most called for the legalization or decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals last year that call on police not to arrest people for possession if they are found with an ounce or less of marijuana, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.

State law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has defeated Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard in her bid for a second four-year term as Michigan's top elections and driver services official.

Johnson is a former Oakland County register of deeds and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006. She was elected secretary of state in 2010.

This year, Johnson has campaigned on her efforts to improve Michigan motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

She says she plans to build on efforts to improve online services and reduce the waiting in line that long has been the complaint of Michigan motorists.

Dillard is a prominent civil rights lawyer and campaigned on making voting easier.

Libertarian James Lewis, U.S. Taxpayers' Robert Gale and Natural Law Party's Jason Robert Gatties also were on Tuesday's ballot.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has been reelected.
Bill Schuette

Republican Bill Schuette has been re-elected to a second term as Michigan's attorney general.

Schuette defeated Democrat Mark Totten and other candidates in Tuesday's general election.

The 61-year-old Schuette is a former congressman, state lawmaker and state appeals judge. He has campaigned heavily on being tough on crime.

He has supported funding to process thousands of untested rape evidence kits in Detroit, targeted human trafficking and pushed Michigan lawmakers to pass a school safety program.

Schuette also appealed a federal judge's ruling that Michigan's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and supported a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April that upheld the state's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.

Totten is a Michigan State University associate law professor and former special U.S. attorney.

American flag.
Corey Seeman / Flickr

We're following the races as they're called. You can see results here, and we have a rolling summary of results below.

You can also follow our team as they tweet from the Republican and Democratic parties in Michigan:

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder has been reelected to a second term.

Snyder was first elected governor in 2010. During Snyder’s first term, he oversaw major tax reforms that largely shifted the burden from business to individuals. He also appointed the emergency manager that’s ushering Detroit through bankruptcy.

Democratic challenger Mark Schauer represented Michigan’s 7th Congressional District from 2009-2011.

Michigan's next Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters

Gary Peters will represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate. The Associated Press has called the race with 9% of the precincts reporting.

Peters is a three-term congressman who had good name recognition. His opponent, Terri Lynn Land, Michigan's former Secretary of State, was also a recognized political figure across the state, but her campaign foundered as Peters took a lead in the polls in the spring.

Peters succeeds retiring U.S. Senator Carl Levin, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, and chairman of the influential Armed Services Committee. 

Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 6.

We've compiled a list of the incumbent candidates in the House, Senate and governors races that lost seats tonight. We will update this list throughout the night as the calls come in. You can keep up with NPR's live election coverage at election.npr.org and follow NPR News and NPR Politics on Twitter.

House Republican Incumbents Who Lost (3)

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

As election results come in – Michigan Democrats are keeping a close eye on state House races. They believe they take control of the state House in 2015.

Democrat Mark Schauer hopes if he’s elected governor tonight that he’ll have a Democratic House to work with.

“I think it would reflect a new set of priorities for Michigan and a different set of values and a different approach, one that really does put people first, realizing that we have to rebuild our middle class.”

Democrats would need to gain control of seven seats currently held by Republicans to have a majority. According to the Gongwer news service, Democrats are within reach in ten state House races.

A fall leaf asks us to vote this Election Day.
Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Across the state, voters have had a chance to weigh in on a variety of issues this election season.

We have updates for you on the major races in Michigan, but if you want to know more about the local races in your area, you'll need to check your county elections page.  

To review your county's page, right-click on the map below and select "open link in new tab [or window]":

Jake Neher / MPRN

Both major candidates for governor say they are confident they will win as voters head to the polls in Tuesday’s election.

Recent polling suggests the race is close. But incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder’s campaign spokesperson Emily Benavides expects a happy election viewing party.

“That’ll be our celebration,” said Benavides at one of two campaign stops this morning in Ann Arbor.

“We’re feeling great. The governor has all the momentum going into Election Day today. And we’re looking forward to the results this evening.”

Photo of junk mail.
Judith E. Bell / Flickr

Among the campaign mailers from different candidates, some voters in Michigan received something a little different: a postcard telling them whether they voted in a previous election and which of their neighbors did or didn’t vote.

One such flyer reads:

“Because we keep track of every individual voter, when you skip an election, we worry it could become a habit – a bad habit we want you to break. We’ll be looking for you at the polls Tuesday.”

This tactic adds a sense of peer pressure to the voting process, but does it actually increase voter participation?

Political consultant Mark Grebner discusses these postcards with us. He tells us how this group knows about your voting habits, and whether you should be worried if you received a postcard like this. He also tells us about the group behind these mailers, The Michigan Voter Project.

*Listen to our conversation with Mark Grebner above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There will be a lot to keep an eye on tomorrow, so our It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta are breaking down for us the five things to look for on Election Day.

1. How well Gov. Rick Snyder does in Detroit. Pluta equates the election, in part, to a referendum on the governor's Detroit rescue plan, the bankruptcy, and the path forward. Gov. Snyder is not expected to win in Detroit, which is heavily Democratic.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An eyesore in downtown Lansing may finally have a brighter future.

A prominent Lansing developer is offering $1 million for the Oliver Towers. The former apartment building has sat largely vacant for more than a decade. It’s located on prime real estate in the heart of downtown Lansing, a block from the state Capitol building.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today announced a prominent Lansing developer, George F. Eyde Family LLC, has agreed to buy the building.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With Election Day less than 24 hours away, candidates are out making their final push before voters hit the polls.

What will the State House and Senate look like after these midterm elections?

There are some tight races and the outcomes will determine what happens in statewide issues like taxes, school-funding, and fixing our roads. Kathy Gray from the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau is watching these races.

Gray notes some things to look for during the election Tuesday night, such as how Mark Schauer does.

Stateside for Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov 3, 2014

  Today on Stateside: 

  • Kathy Gray, Lansing bureau reporter for the Detroit Free Press, walks us through what the State House and Senate could look like after the midterm elections.

  • We discuss Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s announcement to shed Ferrari and what it could mean for the company.

  • West Michigan native and creator of the now infamous video of a woman receiving catcalls while walking around New York City talks to us about what led him to creating this video.

  • Dr. Maria Silvera, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, spoke to us about what Brittany Maynard's fight for the right-to-die issue could mean for the movement in Michigan.

  • Stateside’s It’s Just Politics team tells us about 5 things to watch in the upcoming election.

  • Roads are an increasingly important issue for many Michigan voters, but little is being accomplished to improve their crumbling conditions. What can be done if legislation fails to pass again?

*Listen to the full show above

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will decide races for governor, a U.S. Senate seat, members of Congress and other elected offices on Tuesday. 

But many won’t bother to vote on non-partisan races and questions on the ballot.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says many voters just forget.

“Some people when they vote for one party or another, which is about 60% of the population, they don’t realize that there is more to the ballot,” says Johnson.

Over the past few months, Michigan Radio hosted live call-in shows with the candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate.

The broadcasts were part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Network’s state Capitol bureau chief, hosted each hour-long program.

Listeners had the choice of calling in or submitting questions via Facebook at “Michigan Calling,” or Twitter using the hashtag: #MICalling.

You can watch or listen to the programs below.

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

We asked you to share one word that best describes your feeling about Election Day.

Based on the responses, it looks like most people are somewhere between hopeful, nervous, and "meh."

We had a strict one word limit, but one new voter managed to get around the rule to express their excitement.

"omgitsmyfirsttimevotingijustturned18andgotmyvoterregistrationzomg!!!"

You can share your word here, excited or not.

Here are the words bubbling to the top:

Polling place.
Stephen Velasco / Flickr

Tomorrow is Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Candidates are out making their final push. Mostly, they just want you to get out of your house and vote.

Not a lot of people go out and vote during midterm elections. In our last midterm election, less than half of Michigan's registered voters cast a ballot.

When you head to the polls tomorrow, your ballot is going to be long. Here are two quick links to get your started from the Michigan Secretary of State:

The long campaign for Michigan governor comes to an end today.

The candidates are making one final push before voters have their say on Election Day on Tuesday.

The candidates for governor are both trying to build momentum heading into tomorrow’s election.

Democrat Mark Schauer spent the weekend riding in a recreational vehicle, traveling from city to city, from the Upper Peninsula to Jackson. He says it’s a “blitz to the finish”.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters will decide on Tuesday if they want to make changes to the way their city government works.

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