WUOMFM

elections

Matt Radick / Flickr

  It’s been nearly two years since a lame-duck Legislature made Michigan the 24th right-to-work state. In response, 12,000 furious protesters flocked to the state Capitol, vowing Republicans would pay dearly at the next elections.

Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News, and Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry joined Stateside to talk about the impact of right-to-work on the upcoming elections.

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.

user Tobyotter / Flickr

Does a political candidate's weight affect his or her chances of getting elected? Or even getting on the ballot in the first place?

New research by a Michigan State University professor and his wife, a Hope College professor, indicate the answer is “yes.”

Mark Roehling is a human resources professor at MSU and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

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.

A polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A higher number of Detroiters voted in Tuesday’s mayoral election than their New York City counterparts, according to research from Next City.

25.4% of Detroit’s registered voters filled out a ballot on Tuesday, with Democrat Mike Duggan winning the election. In New York City, 24% of voters showed up to the polls. Democrat Bill De Blasio is now NYC’s mayor-elect.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the turnout in Detroit was higher than anticipated. "Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate."

While Detroit voters edged out New Yorkers Tuesday, Next City reports that the two cities were somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of major city election turnouts:

"The 2012 Supreme Court campaign was the most expensive and least transparent in history."

Yikes. 

That's the unflattering takeaway from a new report from a consortium of groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Of the $19 million dollars poured into the state's Supreme Court races, $13 million went to ads like the following.

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.

A polling place.
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?

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan's local election results

  • Dane Slater was re-elected Mayor of Troy. He was appointed after former Mayor Janice Daniels was recalled. Slater defeated primary opponent Marty Knollenberg.
  • Citizens in Benton Harbor voted overwhelmingly to raise property taxes to support city services. The city is running in the red. The millage represents about 20 percent of the city’s income.

State of disaster declared in Michigan

"Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of disaster across much of Michigan due to storm- and flood-related damage last month. The proclamation makes state resources available to help the weather-stricken areas. The disaster proclamation covers the cities of Grand Rapids and Ionia in west Michigan, and 19 counties in the western Upper Peninsula, northern lower Michigan and southwest Michigan," Rick Pluta reports.

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.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

No?

Well, dozens of Michigan counties and townships are holding special elections today. Most are focused on public school district proposals. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Here are some election highlights:

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A couple of recent columns in Bridge Magazine caught our eye and we wanted to bring the writers together to share their thoughts with you.

The subject: exercising our right to vote.

From coast-to-coast, too many Americans sit on the sidelines when it comes to Election Day.

And, looking at the City of Detroit, with its state-appointed emergency manager running things, Detroiter Karen Dumas believes that Detroiters have paid a price for what she calls a "lack of diligence."

She spelled out her thoughts in a recent Bridge column.

And Bridge staff writer Nancy Derringer reports on a group in Detroit trying to "make voting cool," especially among the young people who are starting to move into the city.

Listen to the full interview above.

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.

At the Republican National Convention.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Republican leaders say they have no plans to scrap discussions about splitting Michigan’s Electoral College votes between congressional districts.         

Both Governor Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville have said they’re not on board with the idea. Snyder says it would be better to consider changes closer to the next census, when congressional lines are re-drawn.

But House Speaker Jase Bolger said there’s no reason to wait that long.

Office of Governor Rick Snyder / Wikimedia Commons

Two top Republicans in Lansing say they’re not on board with a plan to split Michigan’s Electoral College votes.

Lawmakers have been expecting a bill that would divide the state’s electoral votes by congressional district.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said that would make the state less important in presidential elections.

“At this point in time, I’m still sticking to my guns. I think the bigger package of votes for the winner brings more attention to the state and keeps us united. So I haven’t been convinced otherwise yet,” Richardville said.

Stateside: Dark money in campaign funding

Jan 10, 2013
Money
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.

Chris Killian
www.kickstarter.com/

Living in a swing state like Michigan means you're probably already tired of non-stop elections coverage, sound bites and negative ads.

Now, a Kalamazoo freelance reporter wants to offer an alternative...he just needs some help paying for it.

Chris Killian says he'll take a months-long road trip through 11 swing states, getting stories from average people about their politics and their hopes for the country's future.

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.

The other day, I told my significant other she should plan to be out of town on election day. “Was it something I said?" she asked. Well, no. It’s the way election law works in Michigan. We may all face a ballot that is as long as the proverbial bed sheet.

Not only are there a vast number of candidates and races, we could be asked to decide on four, eight, possibly 11 different complicated ballot proposals. Do you know what would happen if every voter stayed in the booth till she or he managed to figure all this out? We’d all still be in line in four years.

Naturally, nobody does that. So people either skip the proposals or take uninformed guesses. In the case of judicial candidates, too many of us go for familiar or judicial-sounding names, which is why there are a lot of judges named Kelly.

We also, oddly enough, elect trustees of our three biggest universities, and what’s even more bizarre, elect them on a partisan basis. Since almost nobody has ever heard of any of these folks, the winners tend to be of the party that wins the top of the ticket.

Pages