Election 2012

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Some people hoping to avoid long lines tomorrow by voting absentee in person today found themselves waiting hours to cast ballots.

At least that was the story in Detroit, where Willie Ann Brown stood outside the Department of Elections still holding a number after nearly three hours of waiting to get a ballot.

"Actually I've been to two of the satellite locations, and they had, like four hour waits and I have to get to work, so I've been trying get to vote," said Brown. "I'm going to vote."

Michigan does not technically offer early voting, like some states do. But people can vote absentee if they provide a reason they won't be able to vote in-person on Election Day.

Calvin Trent took friends to vote at two locations in Detroit. He says the crowds looking to cast ballots early this election are much bigger than he's seen in previous elections.

"Well, the ballot is so long, and people think they're going to be in line forever tomorrow," said Trent. "So that's why people are trying to vote early."

Detroit voters face 18 proposals on the ballot, including questions from the city, the county and the state.

6 things to know before you head to the polls in Michigan

Nov 5, 2012

Election Day is tomorrow.

That means voters should know who the candidates are and where they can find the polls.

Cheat sheets in polling places are allowed (this isn't a test), but political paraphernalia is not allowed inside the polls (so leave your Joseph F. Burke  for 15th District Judge t-shirt at home).

For those who need more information, Michigan Radio has assembled a last minute list of things to know.

Polls open tomorrow, November 6, at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.

1) You can vote even if you don't have an ID

Brian Banks has eight felony convictions on his record, for things like bad checks and credit card fraud.

His landlord had him evicted from a rental property in Harper Woods last week, saying he had written bad checks and not paid his rent. Additionally, he was evicted from a second home in that city and a court ordered him to pay a nearly $4,000 judgment.

user Jeffness / Wikipedia

Even though they are on the non-partisan part of the ballot, the Republican and Democratic parties spend millions of dollars to get their candidates elected to Michigan’s highest court.

Three of the court’s seven seats are up this year.

That means the election will decide whether the court will continue to tilt toward the right under Republican control, or shift to a Democratic majority.

Relatively few people know the candidates running for Michigan’s highest court, but it’s not for a lack of spending by political parties.

user JaHoVil / Flickr

If the latest poll from EPIC MRA is accurate, it appears all the ballot proposals are headed for defeat, though three of them appear close.

There are a lot of undecided voters (18 percent for Proposal 1).

Kelly Sullivan of EPIC MRA says based on past elections results, these voters tend to either vote 'no,' or they tend not to vote at all on the proposal in question.

So that tips the scales even further into the 'no' category for all of the ballot proposals.

The election is now only four days away, and I’ve been thinking about what will happen afterward.

Earlier this week, I received a nasty phone call from a woman named Bonnie.

She believes President Obama is evil, and a traitor.

She thinks the media are covering up the truth behind the killing of the American ambassador to Libya.

She was also upset that we are covering up the “fact,” as she put it, that President Obama’s family were all Communists.

I told her, in not very polite terms, that was idiotic.

She began screaming and I hung up.

Political ads are filling the airwaves, but it’s not always easy to know what is true and what is not.

Michigan Watch has teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to sort it out.

Today we look at Proposal 5 ads. That’s the proposal requiring a two-thirds majority of the legislature or a vote of the people for any state tax increase.

We’re going to start out with the proponents of Proposal 5, the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity. They want you to vote ‘yes.’

John Bebow and the Truth Squad reviewed several radio ads the group is running.

Stateside: Judge O'Brien's case for candidacy

Nov 1, 2012

Judge Colleen O'Brien, who currently sits on the Oakland County Circuit Court, spoke with Stateside about her candidacy.  

“I practiced law for 17 years and I’m running for the same reason I ran for circuit court. When I practiced law I had the opportunity to appear in the court rooms of many different judges and I would have the same set of facts but I would go to three different counties and get three different decisions. That is not the way our legal system is supposed to work. We need judges that follow the law,” said O’Brien.


Michigan House Representatives are up for election next Tuesday. All 110 seats. Both Houses of the legislature hold Republican majorities, but this election could mark a shift of power in Lansing if Democrats gain more votes. Jennifer White talks with Susan Demas, political analyst with Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

What's on your ballot? Election 2012 voting resources

Nov 1, 2012

So far over $140 million has been spent by campaigns for and against Michigan's six ballot proposals. That kind of money can pay for a lot of information (or misinformation) in the form of TV ads, phone calls, and mailers.

Thus Michigan voters can be forgiven for losing patience with the process. But that doesn't relieve them of their democratic duties.

Here are a few resources that voters can use to get the basic information they'll need for election day, and if they choose, a little more:

State election officials have dismissed all but one of several complaints filed against state House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt.

The complaints of illegally using taxpayer resources were filed against the Republican lawmakers by Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer.

Bolger and Schmidt plotted Schmidt's switch to the Republican Party and tried to rig a re-election campaign by recruiting a fake Democrat to run.

More from the Detroit News:

Stan Oleson / Fotopedia

Voters in Michigan could make some big changes to the Michigan Constitution on November 6th. They’ll decide on five proposed amendments to Michigan’s guiding legal document.

Proposal 2 would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution.

Those supporting Proposal 2 say they’re just trying to protect workers’ rights. Labor unions around the Midwest have been feeling squeezed. The legislature in Wisconsin stripped public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights.

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Republicans are hoping to put Michigan's Electoral College votes back in play with $3.7 million worth of TV ad buys in the state as the campaign heads into its final week.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announced an ad buy of $1.5 million Tuesday, while the Super PAC Restore Our Future has purchased $2.2 million of air time.

Election Day is less than a week away and the race is tightening with intensity.

Filling Michigan residents’ televisions is a burst of campaign ads from both Governor Romney and President Obama.

To explain the stakes of the race in Michigan, Cyndy spoke with editor and publisher of "Inside Michigan Politics,” Bill Ballenger and Michigan Public Radio Network Lansing Chief, Rick Pluta.

The guests started by addressing where the race currently stands.

What this election means for low-income families

Oct 31, 2012
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After months of political rancor and over $2 billion raised, the 2012 presidential race is almost over. Yet with only six days left until Election Day, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have largely ignored the issue of poverty.

First, the good news. A week from now, this election will be over. No more ads, no more lies, no more charges and counter-charges. Do you know one person who regrets that, or who isn’t heartily sick of the campaign at all levels, including the candidates?

Stateside: Contrary to recent ad, Jeep will stay in the U.S.

Oct 30, 2012
Rebecca Williams

As the year’s Presidential Campaign comes to a close, both parties focus on Chrysler’s future plans concerning Jeep.

In a recent ad, Governor Romney claimed Jeep had plans of moving its production to China, a claim that was soon refuted by the company.

David Shepardson, the Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief, talked to Stateside to help clarify the confusion surrounding the ad. According to Shepardson, the ad acts more as a reflection of the race’s desperation than a document of the auto industry’s future.

On the November 6 ballot you'll find a non-partisan section, along with the names of candidates running for the Michigan Supreme Court. Jennifer White talks with Bridge Magazine correspondent Peter Luke who has taken and in-depth look at how Michigan Supreme Court Justices are elected, and what you should know about the candidates before heading to the polls. Go here to read the full article.

user Steve & Christine from USA / Wikipedia

There are five proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution on the ballot. One that could be a game changer for the State of Michigan is Proposal Five, the so-called "two-thirds" proposal. 

Proposal 5 seems pretty straightforward. Right now it takes a simple majority of the legislature to pass a tax increase. If passed, Proposal 5 would require a supermajority of two-thirds of the legislature or a vote of the people to pass a tax increase.

Those for Proposal 5

Stateside: Supreme Court Candidate, Bridget Mary McCormack

Oct 29, 2012

Continuing our coverage of Michigan’s Supreme Court race, Cyndy Canty spoke with candidate Bridget Mary McCormack.

McCormack is the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Michigan’s Law School and is also a Clinical Professor of Law.

“I am really committed to the important, independent role the Court plays in our constitutional democracy,” said McCormack.

One of the Supreme Court’s primary functions, says McCormack, is attending to its surrounding community.

“We are providing a legal service to the community,” says McCormack.

Rina Miller / Michigan Radio

There’s a debate in Michigan over whether people who provide in-home help to those with disabilities and some elderly should be guaranteed the right to collective bargaining under a Constitutional amendment.

That’s part of what Proposal 4 is about.

Elizabeth Schultz lives in an apartment in Holland with her cat, Kiko.  Schultz is college educated, teaches a class at a community mental health agency and is a deacon at her church.

Next week, with just a week and a half to go before Election Day, Governor Snyder will board a bus to tour the state. The purpose of the trip: to focus attention on the Emergency Manager Law referendum and the five proposed amendments to the state constitution that you’ll find on the November ballot.

The Governor says he’s going all out, “I’m in campaign mode, to be open with you. I’m not running for office, as you know, right now… I’m setting up a schedule to say this is a campaign, because this is a campaign for Michigan’s future.” The governor is calling for a “yes” vote on Proposal One and “no” on the rest. This election has been called a referendum that will determine the success of the rest of his first term.

So, for us political junkies, it raises the question: can a governor, particularly one “in campaign mode,” really push the results of a ballot campaign in one direction or another. Typically, the answer is “no.” It’s often tried but usually a politician’s appeal or popularity does not rub off onto ballot proposals. Though they can gather a bit of media attention at first, endorsements are one of the most overrated political activities. The fact is, campaigns win or lose on the strength of message and organization. So, then, why do politicians engage in endorsements? Well, because politicians work with what they’ve got. A governor still has a platform, and it’s easier to sow seeds of doubt than to sell a ballot question. That’s why the governor is already working on a Plan B for a re-vamped Emergency Manager Law after the election, in case the EM Law is overturned.

Laura Bush to appear at Romney campaign event in Livonia

Oct 26, 2012
Be the Change, Inc. / flickr

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has shown a renewed interest in Michigan with recent visits from Chris Christie, Ann Romney, and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Former first lady Laura Bush looks to be the next in line as she is scheduled to appear at a campaign event this Sunday in Livonia.

The Detroit News has more:

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra on "Michigan Calling"

Oct 26, 2012
Michigan Radio

This morning, former Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra stopped by Michigan Radio's studios to talk with host Rick Pluta and callers from around the state.

Topics covered included energy policy, foreign policy in the Middle East, trade policy with China, and, of course, jobs.

You can listen to the conversation above.

Be sure to listen to last week's conversation with incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

The state budget director says credit agencies won’t upgrade Michigan’s rating because of proposals on the November ballot.

John Nixon today spoke alongside opponents of Proposal Five. It would require a statewide vote or two-thirds majorities of the Legislature to approve a tax increase.

But Nixon said all the initiatives cast doubt about the state’s economic future.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Snyder says Prop 2 is not a referendum on right-to-work laws

"Governor Rick Snyder says if voters reject Proposal 2, that would not be an invitation to pass a right-to-work law in Michigan. Proposal 2 would guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, and call into question many of the state’s labor laws. Governor Snyder is urging a “no” vote on the proposal, but he has also asked the Legislature to stay away from right-to-work because it’s so controversial. Right-to-work laws forbid compulsory union membership as a condition of employment," Rick Pluta reports.

Political signs can now be displayed in bars

"Michigan bars and restaurants that serve alcohol can now add political signs to their décor. Since 1954 the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has had a rule that businesses with state liquor licenses could not post signs endorsing political candidates. Last week an Ann Arbor bar along with the ACLU filed suit challenging the ban," Steve Carmody reports.

Voting rights group will be on call on Election Day

"The Michigan Center for Election Law says it will be on call on Election Day. Volunteers will staff a hotline that voters can call if they experience problems casting a ballot. The phone number will be on yard signs outside most precincts. A member of the group says during the primary, some people called the hotline because clerks told them they couldn't vote without I.D. State law allows people to vote without I.D. if they fill out an affidavit," Tracy Samilton reports.

Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists was in Grand Rapids and will be in Kalamazoo tonight to ask people to vote in favor of Proposition 3. In an essay Knobloch called it "the most important clean energy vote this year".

If you are a politician, or promoting one of the ballot proposals and want to influence my vote, don’t waste your time.

I voted a week ago, by absentee ballot, even though I may be home on election day. I can do that because I am 60 years old. Hey, you should be able to get some benefit out of being 60.

But here’s the thing. Unless you are my age or older, you can’t legally get an absentee ballot, except in a very few cases, mostly if you know you are going to be in jail on election day, or out of town.

Immigration and the Latino vote

Oct 23, 2012
Flickr/jnn1776 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Recently, there was a protest rally in Southwest Detroit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement over raids and deportation, and what’s seen as overreach by ICE officials. Non-citizens can't legally vote, but how does the heightened sense of tension impact the Latino vote here in Michigan? Also, the Latino community is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the state. Should there be more Latino representation among lawmakers? Jennifer White talks with Laurence Garcia, an attorney, and the Chairman of the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan.

The rules lawmakers in Lansing play by could change after November 6.

That's when you will decide on six statewide ballot proposals.

Proposal 1 is a referendum on the state's Emergency Manager Law.

Proposals 2 through 6 seek to amend the state's Constitution.

Voters in Michigan have not been faced with this many proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution since 1978, when they decided on nine amendments.

So is the state constitution a good place to make these changes?