Grand Traverse Co. Sees High Voter Turnout, Close to Presidential Elections

Voter turnout in Michigan was the highest for a midterm election in 56 years. At least 52 percent of the voting-age population went to the polls and cast a ballot.

There was also record-setting turnout at the polls in Traverse City. To prepare for it, City Clerk Benjamin Marentette says that meant “additional voting booths, equipment, and more workers at the polls.”

Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele says they had “over 66 percent turnout on a midterm, and normally we don’t get over 50 percent. This is pushing close to presidential elections. We hit about 70 percent during a Presidential.”

Turnout was slightly higher in city limits. Marentette says Traverse City saw just under 70 percent turnout. “Which for a midterm election is historic. I’ve looked back at the last couple of decades and can’t find any city election where we saw that kind of turnout at a midterm election.” In fact, Marentette says they’ve seen Presidential elections with lower turnout than this midterm.

Another factor, according to Marentette, was absentee ballots. “We saw a substantial uptick in our absentee voting, for instance we issued 71 percent more absentee ballots than we did four years ago.”

The City and County Clerks agree, efforts to “get out the vote” and register new voters this year seem to have paid off, with record numbers of first time voters. Scheele says “both parties, Republican and Democrat really got their parties excited about voting I think. And the turnout was really good on both sides.” Marentette adds, “there were a lot of folks who voted for the first time. Whether they were 18-years-old or 45-years-old or 65-years-old, they were voting for the first time. I also take that as a sign of great interest, and that people feel like there is something at stake.”

Both clerks give credit to their staffs and poll workers for a smooth election day.