Articles

Detroit Voter Turnout Low Despite New Voting Machines

Detroit is the largest of 60 cities that switched to the new voting machines.

by Perry A. Farrell, Detroit Free Press / August 9, 2017
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(TNS) -- One of the first voters to use the new voting machines at Frederick Douglass Academy on Tuesday morning was former interim mayor and longtime Detroit City Council member Kenneth Cockrel Jr.

Keenly aware of the issues Detroit has experienced with machines and malfunctions, Cockrel said the process went smoothly.

“I didn’t experience any issues today,’’ said Cockrel. “I don’t know if it’s quicker, but it seemed pretty efficient. It seemed to go very smooth. We would hope it would stay that way. The city clerk and the elections commission seem to think so. Hopefully, that will come to pass.’’

The new machines came about because of irregularities during last year’s presidential election recount and as a commission appointed by the president looks into questions of voter integrity across the country.

Detroit is the biggest of 60 cities that switched to the new voting machines. According to a Free Press article, 45 counties will have the new equipment by November. Tuesday’s primary election produced a small turnover, but the new machines posed no issues.

“Turnout is a little down, it’s between 10 and 12%,’’ said Pontiac City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins. "Four years ago it was 9.87%. Our new machines are great. We have a different machine than Wayne County. We have the Hart InterCivic. The County Clerk chose those. There were three vendors were approved, and that was the one picked.’’

Janie Timmons, 77, has been voting for 60 years and found the machines at Frederick Douglass “much better,’’ she said.

“They’re 100% better. The whole process was much better. Thank God, I can still read and write.’’

Ken Nunn, 63, said: “They were pretty straightforward, they were complicated. Hopefully, they’ll alleviate any issues. It seemed like the same setup for me. You go in there, fill your ballot out, and they can tear that top piece off, slide it through there. I’m going to think positive that it’s going to work.’’

Hamtramck City Clerk August Gitschlag said: “We didn’t expect any problems with the new machines. The workers liked them. They are user-friendly, and when the workers used them everything went smoothly.’’

Kirsten Shirkey, 29, voted at Western International and said: “It seemed to work very quickly. It fed right in, and I didn’t have any issue. I was very concerned. I knew they had issues in the past. That wasn’t good. I’m looking forward to fixing a lot of those problems. I was only No. 22. It’s a preliminary, so I don’t know how many people will turn out."

Steve Tobocman, 47, a former politician and a member of the House of Representatives until term limits forced him to give up his seat in 2008, voted at Western International High School and said the process went smoothly.

“I didn’t recognize any difference in the machine,’’ said Tobocman. “Unfortunately, I was only the 23rd voter, so it seems, as it often is in a Detroit primary, a low turnout, and that’s disappointing.’’

©2017 the Detroit Free Press Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.