elections

Aaron Selbig

A pair of political newcomers is challenging three incumbents on the Traverse City commission. All five candidates gathered Wednesday night at a forum put on by the League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area.

The forum packed a large community room at the Traverse Area District Library. Voters showed up to hear from five candidates running for three seats on the city commission.

Campaign finance bills pass the Senate

Sep 15, 2017

Michigan won’t limit how much money corporations and unions can spend to influence elections in the state – under legislation that’s cleared the state senate.

In 2010 the US Supreme Court said corporations and unions could spend as much money as they wanted on political campaigns.

Seven years later, Michigan lawmakers are putting that standard into state law.

Arlan Meekhof is the Senate Majority Leader. He voted in favor of the bills, “Because everybody should have free speech and the Supreme Court has said that free speech equals money in what you give.”

There seems to be growing public doubt about political polls ever since Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency, when many polls had him trailing Hillary Clinton.

Harry Enten, a senior political writer at FiveThirtyEight, recently looked at a poll released by Delphi Analytica that showed, in a hypothetical U.S. Senate race, sitting Senator Debbie Stabenow trailing Michigan native Kid Rock, although Rock hasn’t officially announced his candidacy.

It's primary election day for cities in Michigan. 

There have been scattered, unconfirmed reports of polls opening late and voters being turned away. 

But so far, the problems don't seem anywhere near the scale they were in last year's presidential race. 

Tyler Bevier, BATA

Residents of Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties voted Tuesday for expanded bus service. Voters approved a millage increase for the Bay Area Transportation Authority that will give them an extra $1 million next year. BATA says it will use the money to buy new buses and expand routes.

Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Max Anderson says the vote shows that the community values the BATA service.

If you ask a roomful of voters if they think gerrymandering is an issue, it's a fair bet most of the people would raise their hands, regardless whether they were a Republican, Democrat, or independent.

There are several groups in the state looking at the issue for the 2020 the ballot. The group Voters Not Politicians is not waiting that long. It wants to put something on the ballot in 2018.

The vote recount in Michigan has ended. But it did reveal some problems.

The Secretary of State is planning to audit several Detroit polling places because of irregularities. The number of ballots in the recount containers did not match the number of voters who signed in. In other counties, there were some additional discrepancies as well.

 

Election Day marks the finish line of a grueling, fractious and long campaign.

It started with Ted Cruz announcing his candidacy in March 2015.

Twenty months later, many Americans are expressing their exhaustion with the process.

Many people are looking wistfully to other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, which elect their leaders in a few weeks and then move on.

Michigan State University associate professor of political science Matt Grossmann sat down with us today to talk about how the process for electing our president became so protracted.

The oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac has become a key election issue in northern Michigan this year. Candidates for Michigan’s 101st state House spoke about it at a debate in Glen Arbor Thursday night.

Republican Curt Vanderwall says the pipeline provides economic stability.

“We need to make sure that we understand that there’s 250 high paying jobs in those communities throughout the whole line from the tip to the bottom that are in this state,” said Vanderwall.

Vanderwall’s opponent, Democrat Dan Scripps, took a firm stance on shutting down Line 5.

 

Michigan school boards are facing a dearth of candidates in the November election. Nearly 1,600 seats will open up in 540 districts across the state. Yet, in the 2014 elections, approximately 70 seats remained empty. Why are people so reluctant to serve on their school boards?

Betsy Coffia

The race for Grand Traverse County’s seat in the state House has a new – but familiar – candidate. Betsy Coffia filed paperwork to run for the 104th House district before yesterday’s deadline.

Coffia ran for the seat in 2012 and 2014. She says she has hundreds of volunteers from past races who are ready to help again.

That moment you step up to the voting machine to cast your vote is arguably the foundation of our democracy.

But here’s something you might not know: Those voting machines that we rely on are wearing out, and fast.

Two years ago, a presidential commission on elections warned of an impending national crisis because of these worn-out voting machines, and according to Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, Michigan is in the thick of it.

Aaron Selbig

Traverse City just elected a new mayor and three new commissioners. Voter turnout in this year’s election was about 28 percent.

If this year is anything like years past, older voters are likely having the most influence in Traverse City. In the 2013 city election, nearly 70 percent of voters were 50 years old or older – even though that age group made up only 45 percent of the electorate.

It’s the same story for all recent elections. Older voters are turning out to the polls at a much higher rate than younger voters.

Jim Carruthers is Traverse City’s new mayor. Carruthers won the seat in yesterday’s election, defeating Ian Winklemann and city commissioner Jeanine Easterday.

Carruthers says he became involved in city issues shortly after moving to Traverse City in 1989.

“I got involved mainly because I don’t own a TV," he says. "And I went down to city commission meetings and sat in the audience and watched and listened and made public comment because I was raised to be involved and care about my community and I was.”


The actress best known for playing Laura Ingalls Wilder on “Little House on the Prairie” in the 1970s and early 80s moved to Michigan two years ago with her actor husband Timothy Busfield.

On Monday, she announced a run for Congress in Michigan’s 8th District. It covers cities like East Lansing, Howell, Fenton, Clarkston, Lake Orion and Rochester.

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea

Everybody who sets foot in a voting booth wants to know that their vote counts just as much as the vote of the next person in line. Faith in our democratic system rests on fair and representative elections.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s political map has been manipulated to the point that not all votes count the same. Politicians have drawn political districts so that in many places around our state, who wins or loses is a foregone conclusion long before the end of election night. They created the political map this way in order to give themselves and their party a head start in an election, much to the detriment of our democracy and your vote.

Grand Rapids voters will be electing their first new mayor in more than 10 years, and the primary is a week from tomorrow.

Current Mayor George Heartwell is being term-limited out after serving in office for more than a decade.