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Voter Turnout In Washtenaw County Elections Falls Under 10-Percent

Lisa Barry
89.1 WEMU

There was only one countywide ballot initiative to be decided in Tuesday's elections in Washtenaw County.  That, coupled with time of year, may be why of the roughly 291-thousand registered voters, only a little more than 28-thousand cast a ballot.  89.1 WEMU's David Fair caught up with Washtenaw County director of elections Ed Golembiewski to discuss low turnout and what to expect come the November elections.

Just under 9.7% of registered voters in Washtenaw County participated in the August 6th election.  Prior to the election, Washtenaw County's director of elections Ed Golembiewski told WEMU News he anticipated  12-15 percent turnout.  Golembiewski attributes a light ballot and a prime vacation time for lower-than-anticpated voting.  Comparatively speaking, it is also lower than the last time there was a special, countywide election.  In May of 2016, Golembiewski says there was 12-to-13% turnout.

This is the first election held in Washtenaw County since election laws changes with passage of a statewide ballot initiaitve last November.  Among the changes are 'no-reason' absentee balloting and voter registration that is allowed up until the polls close on Election Day.  Golembiewski says 53% of all votes cast on Tuesday did come via absentee ballot.  He adds there were 31 voters who registered at the polls yesterday, taking advantage of the new election laws. 

Golembiewski says, despite the low turnout, the August election was a good exercise for the county elections office and all of the city and township clerks that will have a much bigger task when the November elections roll around. 

All three ballot measures decided in Washtenaw County on Election Tuesday won voter approval.  A $53.2-million dollar bond request put forth by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District passed with nearly 56-percent of the vote, a 10-year, one-mill tax question in the Whitmore Lake school district won with just under 52-percent approval, and the Chelsea District Library’s 10-year, one-mill tax won on nearly 66-percent of the ballots. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

Nearly three-quarters of David Fair’s 20+ years in radio has been at WEMU. Since 1994, he has been on the air at 5am each weekday on 89.1 FM as the local host of NPR’s Morning Edition. Over the years, Fair has had the opportunity to interview nationally and internationally known politicians, activists and celebrities. But he feels the most important features and interviews have been with those who live and work here at home. He believes his professional passions and desires fit perfectly into WEMU’s commitment to serving a local audience.
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