DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit officials say they hope they’re wrong, but in the midst of being under the control of a state-appointed manager and filing the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history, they’re expecting a low voter turnout Tuesday — somewhere between 20 and 25 percent.
By 12:30 p.m., five-and-a-half hours after the polls opened, the city’s Department of Elections reported a voter turnout of just five percent.
City Clerk Janice Winfrey said on the high-end, she expects a mere 134,000 of the city’s 535,000 registered voters to elect either Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon or former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan as the city’s next mayor by the time the polls close at 8 p.m.
Mayor Dave Bing said voters shouldn’t stay home just because the city is under emergency management and in bankruptcy court.
“I think this is the most important election since Coleman Young was elected. Our city is right at the crux of either going forward or going backward and none of us want to go backward,” Bing said.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said off-year elections traditionally don’t generate a lot of voter enthusiasm.
“The keyword today is passion. How much passion do you have for your candidate, either in Detroit or statewide, to actually drop whatever you’re doing and squeeze into your busy schedule that thing called exercising your right in a democracy to vote,” Skubick said.
In the 2005 mayoral election, 37 percent of voters cast ballots. Voter turnout dropped to 22 percent in 2009, but that election followed shortly on the heels of a special election to replace ex-mayor and now racketeering convict Kwame Kilpatrick.
Detroit’s current population is estimated to be about 701,475.