election

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the final weeks of the campaign we heard poll results predicting a dead heat between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer.

In the end, it was Snyder over Schauer 51% to 47%.

How do pollsters view their track record? EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn joined us on Stateside. 

He says the Republicans Governors Association blunted Schauer’s momentum going into the election, which may have given Gov. Snyder the edge needed to win re-election.

It wasn’t a total loss for the Democrats, Porn says, because they won the state board and education posts, which he believes indicates that the party base for the Democrats turned out.

He also attributes Gov. Snyder’s re-election to an appeal to independent voters; Snyder received 72% of the independent vote in this election.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters received 88% of the independent vote in this race, showing how crucial independents are.

*Listen to the interview with Bernie Porn above.

Cathleen Carrigan / Flickr

Michigan will send the same number of Democrats and Republicans to Washington.

The state will send nine Republicans and five Democrats to the U.S. House. New Congressional faces include Republicans David Trott, Mike Bishop and John Moolenaar. And Democrats Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell.

Debbie Dingell discusses her goals and expectations as a new representative in the U.S. House.

Dingell is taking over the 12th District from her husband John Dingell, who will retire at the end of this term.

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.

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.

USFWS

On Nov. 4, voters in 11 Michigan cities will consider legalizing small amounts of marijuana. That’s the largest number of municipalities to ever consider the question in a single election in the state. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, marijuana advocates think they can win all of them.

Ben+Sam / Flickr

How would things change if, instead of the political system we have now, we moved to a "top-two" primary? In other words, one primary in which the top two candidates, regardless of party, move on to the general election.

Paul deLespinasse is a professor emeritus of political science at Adrian College, and believes a big reason for gridlock in Congress and state legislatures in this country is our primary system. 

I woke up this morning thinking about the election 38 years ago, when Jimmy Carter narrowly defeated Michigan’s only president, Gerald Ford. That may sound a little bizarre, but before you call my psychiatrist, I was at the Ford Library just a few days ago.

And something that happened yesterday made me nostalgic for that long-ago time, for a very modern reason. I have intensely followed politics all my life, and remember that election as though it were yesterday.

The result was very close – the winner wasn’t known 'till almost four the next morning. There was sadness and some bitterness on the part of the losers the next day.

Voting Booths
Flickr

The Pew Charitable Trusts' latest Elections Performance Index looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia to measure how well they conducted their elections. Wait times at polling stations, problems with registration or absentee ballots, and voter turnout were just some of the things examined.

So how did Michigan do? We talked to Sean Greene, research manager for The Pew Charitable Trusts, to find out.

Listen to the full interview above.

This is an election year, and if you haven’t noticed, you'll soon be engulfed by an inescapable tidal wave of advertising that will make that clear. Last night’s State of the Union speech was, in one sense, a campaign platform.

So were all of the various Republican responses. We’ve seen precious little bipartisan cooperation in Washington or in Lansing these last few years, and unless the martians invade, you can probably count on even less this year.

But regardless of your politics, there is one area in which we need to cooperate to make changes. Not in for whom we vote, but in the mechanics of how we vote.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House has voted to make candidates pay more to request a recount of ballots cast in an election.

Legislation approved 95-9 Thursday would increase to $25 the per-precinct deposit required to initiate a recount of votes in state or local elections. It now costs $10 per precinct.

Candidates would have to pay $125 per precinct if the election winner and loser are separated by more than 50 votes or a half-percentage point of votes cast, whichever is greater.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, polls across Michigan will open for statewide local elections.

Voters in 56 of Michigan’s 83 counties will cast ballots.
Given the city’s recent bankruptcy declaration, all eyes will likely be on Detroit’s mayoral race results.

But as Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reported, counties across the states will face the usual suspects in the poll booths: school and library millages, ward elections, and filling city council seats.
How can you find out if there’s an election in your county? What’s on the ballot? And are you positive you're registered to vote?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Benton Harbor voted overwhelmingly to raise property taxes to support city services in Tuesday’s election.

That’s after voters rejected a similar set of proposals last November. The city is already running in the red and the millage represents around 20-percent of the city’s income.

“You just can’t see me dancing in the streets on the radio,” Mayor James Hightower said over the phone Tuesday night, “It’s a great day in Benton Harbor.”

Debbie Dingell decides against 2014 US Senate run

Apr 20, 2013
Wayne State University

Democratic national committeewoman Debbie Dingell says she has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat that opened up with Carl Levin's impending retirement.

Stateside: Dark money in campaign funding

Jan 10, 2013
User: penywise / MorgueFile

There is an ongoing trend of furtive campaign funding in Michigan.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said voters should demand transparency from their elected officials and their funding.

Robinson called this undisclosed funding “dark money.”

And the two biggest sources of it are, according to Robinson, Michigan’s Democrat and Republican parties.

“My basic premise is that people don’t spend large amounts of money in politics for philanthropic motives. Essentially, they’re advancing their own interests in politics,” he said.

According to Robinson, citizens have a right to know where the money comes from.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Voters must declare they are qualified to vote before getting a ballot under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Republican governor signed legislation Friday containing that requirement and other election law changes.

Representatives for Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson say the leaders worked out concerns that led to his veto of similar legislation this summer. The new law doesn't include a citizen check-off box on ballot applications, which had been barred by a federal judge in the November election.

Stateside: Keeping an eye on China's elections

Nov 12, 2012
User Peng, Yanan / Wikipedia

Communist Party leaders are meeting in Beijing for an important shuffling of China’s leadership, including the selection of a new president.

Tom Watkins is the former state school superintendent and has been closely involved in building ties between Michigan and China. Tonight, he’s flying to Beijing to be present for the selection of China’s new president.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The man leading the ‘vote Yes’ campaign is optimistic Flint voters will approve a big millage increase on Tuesday.

Pastor Timothy Stokes says “at the end of the day, everyone’s concerned about public safety.”

Stokes is the chairman of the ‘Yes to Police and Fire Protection Committee’.  The group has been campaigning for the passage of a six mill property tax increase that’s on Tuesday’s ballot.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Democrats and Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure as many of their fellow state residents as possible show up at the polls.

GOP spokeswoman Kelsey Knight says campaign staffers and volunteers are knocking on 200,000 doors and making 500,000 calls in this final week alone to encourage voters to show up. And to vote Republican, of course.

Democrats are doing the same, but they didn't provide specific numbers.

It's not clear what voter turnout will be like in the state, though.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Political campaigns in Michigan are turning their focus to getting out the vote.

In campaign offices across Michigan, a small army of volunteers is busy calling voters just to confirm who they’re voting for.

In the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters, volunteers use telephones which automatically dial the telephone numbers of eligible Michigan voters. 

When someone answers the phone, the volunteer’s first question is “If you are going to vote…are you going to vote for Mitt Romney…or Barack Obama?”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate continues to trend lower, but a spike in foreclosure filings may be coming this month.

August marked 22  straight months that Michigan’s year over year foreclosure numbers declined.

In fact, the number of foreclosure filings in Michigan in August fell 41 percent compared to August a year ago.   Also, none of the 20 U.S. cities with the highest home foreclosure rates are located in Michigan.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says there are signs that the trend may soon end.

Kate Wells

Vice President Joe Biden took the spotlight at Detroit’s Labor Day parade. It's one more sign that the auto bailout is shaping up as a central theme of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Last week Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked Americans if they were better off today than four years ago. Now comes part of the Democrats’ response: you sure are if you’re an auto worker.

House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Jase Bolger / Facebook.com

Democrats are calling for a special inquiry into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt are guilty of ethics violations. A report by the Kent County prosecutor determined the two did not break any laws as they plotted Schmidt’s switch to the Republican Party, but the report says they did attempt to undermine the integrity of an election.

Their scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt. The idea was, the decoy would not campaign.   

If you need proof that our system is sometimes irrational, consider this: Westland, a mostly blue-collar Wayne County community of about 80,000 people, is short of cash, like most cities these days. But Westland is apparently going to have to spend $60,000 to hold an unexpected and virtually meaningless primary election on a Wednesday in September.

This is the first step in replacing Thaddeus McCotter, the congressman whose bizarre meltdown ended with his sudden resignation last week. Not to replace him for a full-term, but for just the few weeks remaining in his current one.

I hate to sound alarmist, but if all the proposals whose backers submitted signatures make it on the ballot and are approved by the voters, the result will destroy representative democracy in Michigan. Not only that, our economy will  probably be destroyed as well, and we will enter fully into the era of  government of special interests, by special interests, and for special  interests.

Michigan’s constitution is fatally flawed in one big way.  The framers thought there should be an opportunity for citizens to occasionally place a question before the people.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tuesday’s election did not change the balance of power in the state house. 

Two vacant state house seats were up for grabs.

Voters in Genesee County filled a vacant state house seat on Tuesday.   The seat was made vacant last fall by a union-backed campaign that succeeded in recalling Republican Paul Scott.

Last night, Republican Joe Graves defeated Democrat Steve Losey to serve out the final year of Scott’s unfinished term.     

Graves says his message of jobs lead to the victory.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The Lansing City Council will talk about the benefits of meeting less often tonight.  

The city charter requires the council to meet 50 times a year.  City Clerk Chris Swope says, with that schedule, the council is wasting money.   

“It’s not just a matter of that cost but…we should be more efficient. People shouldn’t have to watch 50 times a year to keep an eye on what the city council is doing," says Swope.   

Swope proposes reducing the current city council meeting schedule from 50 required meetings to 26 meetings each year.  

Cle0patra / Flickr

Local elections are underway across the state today. Among other votes in Michigan, two mayors of large cities will be elected, Detroiters will vote on changes to their city charter, and a state representative is up for recall. But, despite the fact that there are important issues on today's ballots, very few voters will actually make it to the polls.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst, about why voter turnout is historically low in local elections that are held in so-called "off-years."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Jackson, like other Michigan cities, will hold an election next week. And like in other cities, those elected will face the reality of how they will choose to spend a declining amount of tax dollars.  

Both candidates for mayor of Jackson are realtors. And both bring a ‘realtor’s optimism’ when they talk about their city’s future. 

Recall campaigns against the state’s elected officials have until the end of the week  to hand in petition signatures to be considered for the November ballot. There have been more than two dozen recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers, and just three against Democratic lawmakers. 

Two of those lawmakers – State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and state Representative Barb Byrum – are in the clear after an elections panel in Ingham County rejected petitions language against them. 

May 3rd Election

May 4, 2011

The voters sent an important message yesterday, to themselves and their communities, and indirectly to the politicians in Lansing. It’s a message the governor and legislature need to hear.

Specifically, the people said that they are willing to pay more for services  important to them. They aren’t necessarily happy with the way things are going or with the people running things. In West Michigan area, they tossed out a boatload of school board members.

Yet the same voters renewed a number of millage proposals, often by wide margins. Sometimes they even voted to increase their taxes, when they were convinced services were necessary.

Grand Rapids narrowly voted to increase a rapid transit millage. Hudsonville voted millions to upgrade the school system.

This trend was especially strong in Southeast Michigan. Struggling, older blue-collar suburbs like Ferndale and Hazel Park have been hard hit by declining property values and a steep drop in state revenue sharing.

Yesterday, they asked their hard-pressed citizens for new money to keep up services.

These aren’t people who have a lot of money, and many no longer have jobs. But they said yes. In tiny Clawson, the people voted more money for their library, a year after the voters in the neighboring and more affluent city of Troy voted to close theirs.

By far, the biggest story was in Southfield, a city of office towers and mostly well-maintained split-level and ranch homes north of Detroit. Seventy percent of its seventy thousand residents are African-American -- mostly middle-class families.

City leaders laid it on the line. They needed a five mill property tax increase, mostly for police and fire services, and they needed it now. Otherwise, they would have to lay off half the city’s police and firemen. Residents knew what that could mean.

They voted the additional taxes by a margin of five to one. Now, these results do not mean that the voters are in a wildly spending mood. They seemed discerning. In Flint, they voted money to keep policemen on the job, but turned down a request for new funds to reopen it the city jail. In blue-collar Garden City, home of iconic rocker Mitch Ryder, officials asked for a twelve-mill increase. Voters said that was too much. They also were reluctant to combine services, such as police and fire. They said no to that in cities as different as Jackson and Harper Woods.

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