East Lansing, Mich.—The 2016 presidential election turned out to be the highest volume of registered voters in the history of Michigan, causing a busy day for city officials but also an encouraging display of American pride.
Many city officials were scrambling and trying to make the process smooth and easy for newly registered student voters. Marie Wicks, the City Clerk of East Lansing, described election day as “hectic and very busy”.
“We had 700 student employees working around campus at the polling locations,” said Wicks. “In terms of residents hired by the city, we had 300 people working, it was doubled from last election and six training sessions as compared to two.”
Wicks was very pleased with the turnout and considered all the events that unfolded on election day to be an “experience”. She was also very happy about how many students made an effort to go out and vote.
“For East Lansing, we had a 76 percent voter turnout, which is pretty darn good,” said Wicks. “Compared to 2012 the student voter turnout was a lot higher.”
The student voter registration in 2012 was 2,500 compared to 7,500 in 2016, with another 3,700 absentee ballots that were sent out. The spike in registered voters created a hassle for students hoping to cast their vote at IM West.
“In precinct 15, there was a two-hour wait for students… We tried to help that out has quickly as possible but when there are so many people filing in at once, it slows down the process,” said Wicks.
Students who were sent to precinct 15 for their polling location were met with a long line where the wait was close to two hours.
“I was a little late for class because of the long line but it was worth being late,” said Will Sandefur, MSU junior. “At one point they started opening up multiple lines and took paper polling which helped speed the process up.”
In the wake of the most recent presidential primary elections, Michigan was a key battleground state that significantly affected the outcome. 2016 saw the largest voter registration for the state of MI in its history with a total of 7,524,700. This number is significantly higher compared to 2012 with 2,382,772, 2008 being 2,927,134, and finally 2000 with a voter turnout of 2,649,464.