The polls may open at 7 a.m., but for election inspectors, Election Day begins much earlier.
East Lansing Precinct 2 Captain Bob Ulrich is the first to arrive, typically getting to Martin Luther Chapel around 5 a.m. His fellow poll workers come at 6 a.m. and stay until the final ballot is processed, well after 8 p.m.
In between, they assisted way more voters than usual.
“The polls did open at 7, and we were very busy,” said Ulrich.“We had eight people in line when I opened the doors at 7 a.m. … We had 45 voters by 7:30.”
East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster said voter registrations for the 2018 midterms was more than 27,000. This is about 7,000 voters more than the 2014 midterms.
Elizabeth Dion was among the first to vote. She arrived as the doors opened.
“We have classes, so we wanted to make sure we could vote before we got busy with our day,” Dion said. “And I’ve heard there’s the most turnout for any midterm ever. We wanted to make sure we could get in and out without having to wait in line.”
Ulrich said early morning and late evening are the busiest times to vote, but tries to make the process as efficient as possible. Dion had submitted her ballot and donned an “I Voted” sticker within 10 minutes of arriving.
An increase in absentee registration and early voting may help keep the turnout at Precinct 2 manageable.
“Absentee ballots are up. Early voting is up,” said Ulrich. “I think there’s a lot of interest in this election and I think people are wanting to make sure that their voice is heard. They’re voting early, they’re coming out early and that’s what we’re here for.”
For election inspector Dorothea Fields, the enthusiasm was tangible. “Oh, this is exciting. This is wonderful,” she said. “I like this very much, the anticipation and the excitement of the people that come through. Everyone seems very upbeat.”