Williamston preps for Michigan Democratic Primary

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Williamston Middle School will serve as the precinct for Williamston voters in the 2020 Democratic Primary on March 10. Photo By: Ian Gilmour

As the Michigan Democratic Primary on March 10 nears, the city of Williamston is preparing to do its part.

Due to Ingham County’s diverse makeup and proximity to the state Capitol, it plays a vital role in the outcome of the primaries.

Credit: Ian Gilmour

Williamston, though one of the smaller cities, is crucial to the voting results of the county. 

Williamston City Clerk Holly Thompson said the process begins long before March. 

“We’ve been preparing for this since January,” said Thompson.

For Thompson, the entire operation is more than merely facilitating the voting process. 

“We’re attending training at the county,” said Thompson. “We’re testing our equipment; we keep up with all the issues people are concerned about.”

Absentee voting

This primary may look different from those in the past because Michigan now allows no-reason absentee voting. Williamston City Manager Corey Schmidt said this will be significant for voters in Williamston.

“I know applications for [absentee ballots] have gone through the roof,” said Schmidt. “There may be fewer people showing up to the actual polling locations because of the absentee ballots.” 

City councilman Gene Smith has been on the Williamston City Council since July 2019. He said that no-reason absentee ballots are a plus for any voting-eligible citizen. 

“I think a lot of the initiatives that have occurred have been very positive as far as helping people get out and vote,” said Smith.

Smith acknowledged that the council has played a significant role in making voting easy for citizens of Williamston, but the council is not completing the ballots. 

“They have to be responsible enough to want to [vote],” said Smith. “They have to educate themselves about what they’re voting for.”

Voting day

March 10 will be a long day for Thompson. 

“I usually work about 16 hours,” said Thompson. “We get here about 5:30 in the morning and leave at about midnight.”

The doors might close at 8 p.m., but Thompson and her crew will work long into the night.

“When closing out the night, you have to be very specific,” said Thompson. “We have to make sure all our numbers are correct and match … that’s extremely important.”

In good hands

Williamston residents can rest easy knowing their election is run by one of the best city clerks.

Thompson was named Clerk of the Year last by the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks in 2018.

“Holly is an amazing city clerk,” said Williamston Mayor Tammy Gilroy. “I can’t speak highly enough about her ethics, her attention to detail. She is so professional.”

Gilroy said she feels safe knowing Thompson has much experience when it comes to facilitating election days in Williamston.

“I have no doubt the primary will run smoothly,” said Gilroy. “I think it’s something she loves to do.” 

Voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Williamston Middle School on March 10.

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