By Chris Hung
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
On March 8, Meridian Township voters hit the polling booths and cast their votes in the 2016 presidential primary election, along with the rest of Michigan. Those booths were a bit busier than usual.
According to the township clerk’s office, of the 29,554 registered voters in Meridian, 13,115 submitted either a ballot or an absentee ballot for the primary. It was also reported that at least 3,500 absentee ballots were submitted for this election, compared to only about 1,200 absentee ballots submitted in 2012’s primary.
This year’s voter turnout for the primary toppled 2012’s statistic in general, when only 5,917 Meridian voters of 27,377 registered voters submitted a ballot.
On a statewide scale, a current estimate of 33.9 percent of eligible voters in Michigan submitted a ballot during this year’s primary and 16.5 percent in the 2012 primary. Meridian Township voters exceeded this year’s most recent presidential primary, in which 44.36 percent of registered voters voted. There was 21.61 percent voter participation in Meridian during the 2012 primary. Both of these statistics exceed Michigan’s average in voter turnout.
According to Pew statistics, this year’s general turnout so far for the primary results even exceeds 2008’s record highs.
Republican candidate Donald Trump won the state of Michigan during this primary election, receiving 36.5 percent of votes from Republican voters. However, the national underdog, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, fared relatively well in the Meridian Township polls. In Michigan, Kasich fell very closely behind second-place U.S Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 24.9 percent and 24.3 percent, respectively.
In what is described as a historic upset by some, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont stole the Michigan Democratic victory away from favored candidate Hillary Clinton. Current results for the state on the Democratic side show that 49.8 percent of Michigan voters voted for Sanders and 48.3 percent voted for Clinton.
This victory has given Sanders 67 Michigan delegates for the primary, seven more than Clinton’s 60 Michigan delegates. Similar to the rest of Michigan, Meridian Township democratic voters supported Sanders over Clinton.