DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Michigan voters lined up early Tuesday at precincts around the state, bundled against temperatures in the 20s and 30s, to cast ballots in a host of local, state and national races.
Long lines were reported at 7 a.m. as polls opened for the 2012 election.
About 70 people stood outside at Bethlehem Temple Church in Lansing as polls opened and dozens lined up outside a recreation center in Detroit that serves as a polling place. Voters came ready for the weather in winter coats and hats.
In Farmington Hills, voters said the line stretched the length of a football field and took them about 35 minutes to get through it.
Some voters at Beck Centennial School in Macomb Township said they were in line 15 minutes early and had to wait about 30 minutes after the polls opened to vote.
Nearly an hour after the polls opened, there was a wait of about 30 minutes for the 70 people in line at Greek Assumption Church on Marter Road in St. Clair Shores, and a wait of only 10 minutes for the few dozen voters at the Salter Community Center in Royal Oak.
But, the lines aren’t moving so fast everywhere.
Stephen Henderson, from the Detroit Free Press, said at 7:40 a.m., he had been in line for an hour at St. John’s Presbyterian, near Lafayette Park in Detroit, and still had not reached the voting booths.
And Matt Friedman, from Tanner Friedman PR firm, said it took him 55 minutes in total to vote at Walnut Creek Middle School in West Bloomfield.
Voters will have plenty of time, though, to cast their ballots, as the polls are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Several people called the WWJ Listener Comment Line at 248-455-7230, to share their voting experiences. Here are just some of the comments we received:
— “I’m calling from Royal Oak and had a great voting experience. I was in line at 6:30 and everyone was friendly, but cold.”
— “I voted in Rochester Hills, got there about 10 to seven and was completed at about eight o’clock.”
— “I voted in Monroe County and I was number two in line, that was at about 20 to seven, and by the time I left, the line was out the door.”
— “The lines were out the door and there was a really neat feeling of ‘Hey, you know what? It’s really great to be an American.'”
— “The wait was about 45 minutes. It wasn’t too long though because the line was moving pretty good. But that ballot was very long.”
— “You got long lines, not enough booths and election workers who don’t know what’s going on.”
— “I just finished voting and there were tons of people there. I guess casting your vote is worth the long wait to get here.”
— “I waited for about 30 minutes and then 10 minutes to fill out the ballot because it was so long.”
In addition to presidential race, Michigan voters see six contentious proposals could be among the strongest indicators of the statewide mood.
Five proposals would alter the Michigan Constitution, including one that would give public and private workers the constitutional right to unionize and collectively bargain contracts. The only measure that doesn’t call for an amendment instead asks voters whether to keep the law that allows the state to appoint emergency managers with broad powers to fix broke cities and school districts.
Other measures would order electric utilities to generate one-quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025, make tax increases contingent on a two-thirds legislative vote and require a public vote before state money can be spent on a new crossing between Michigan and Canada.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t on the ballot but has been in campaign mode, voicing his support for the tough emergency managers measure he signed into law last year and his strong opposition to all the other proposals – which could thwart his efforts to continue overhauling the tax structure and limit future budget negotiation options.
The secretary of state’s office declined to predict statewide turnout, but clerk’s offices in some populous counties expected just slightly lower participation than in 2008.
Oakland County, which primarily elects Republicans to county positions but hasn’t gone for a GOP presidential candidate since 1988, forecast a turnout between 70 percent and 72 percent – a negligible decline from a record 72.5 percent in 2008. Clerk’s spokesman David Mroz said officials aren’t concerned, given most of the nation’s counties “would be happy to see a 70 percent turnout.”
It’s been just as long since a Republican presidential nominee won Michigan, and if Mitt Romney breaks the trend early, it will be a bad sign for President Barack Obama, who easily carried the state four years ago.
Polls consistently favored the president, albeit narrowly. Romney has emphasized personal ties to his native state but will be hard-pressed to overcome his opposition to the Obama administration’s rescue of General Motors and Chrysler.
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, meanwhile, is seeking a third term after a challenge from former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra. With no Democratic primary opposition, Stabenow amassed a big fundraising advantage and spent heavily on television commercials portraying herself as a champion of Michigan manufacturers and farmers.
Hoekstra tried linking her to the state’s economic struggles, which he blamed on Obama’s economic policies. But he ran into trouble early with a campaign ad featuring an Asian-American actress speaking broken English to suggest Stabenow was soft on China, and his campaign struggled.
Find local election results by county at the following links:
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for complete election coverage throughout the day and results in the evening.
TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.