The Williamston Roadhouse, located on 3700 E. Grand River Ave., featured Fox News on its TVs Tuesday night for patrons watching the presidential election coverage. Credit: Brian Goldsmith
Election night at the Williamston Roadhouse is a relaxing sight for people looking to wind down in the company of their peers, said Sammual L. Hitchcock, 30, a Leroy Township farmer. The Trump supporting-patrons are in high spirits on Tuesday night as they watch the presidential election coverage on Fox News. The restaurant is decorated in Trump-Pence 2020 banners and signs.
Watching the election coverage at the Williamston Roadhouse is a great place because the bar is located only a mile and a half from his house, said Hitchcock. “There’s great people here, we all get along, [and] we’re all hard-working people,” he said.
For decades, Michigan was a Democratic stronghold. George H.W. Bush won Michigan in 1988, and that was the last time a Republican won the state. That is until President Trump won much of the Midwest in 2016. He was able to make a new coalition of states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. To keep that coalition strong this time around, Trump is campaigning hard Michigan and other bue-collar Midwestern states.
Absentee voter putting his ballot in the Election Drop Box outside Lansing City Hall. Credit: Asya Lawrence
Because absentee ballots doubled compared to the 2016 presidential election, Ingham County’s counting board is critical to this election. This county board is made up of county residents who will process and account for each ballot.
Absent Voter Counting Board
An absent voter counting board or AVCB is a separate group of inspectors who process absentee ballots in designated locations with their own tabulators.
The AVCB handles large numbers of absentee ballots said Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum. She said changes have been made this year in terms of operating the counting boards.
Typically, absentee counting boards usually occur at the local level at the city and township clerk’s office; however, the Governor signed Public Act 95 of 2020 that allows for a consolidated county absentee counting board, said Byrum.
Need for an AVCB due to high volume of absentee ballots
Michiganders are choosing to avoid physically going to the polls and are voting via absentee ballot instead.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that over 2.7 million voters have requested an absentee ballot. Compared to the 2016 presidential race, there has been a 145% increase in requests of mail-in ballots, according to The Detroit News.
Clerk Byrum explained the county has received 60,771 absentee ballots.
It all started with letters inviting four presidential candidates to speak at Michigan State University: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The invitations, sent by The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) on Oct. 5, met mixed opinions on social media. Facebook users took to the comments section to express their disapproval of the decision – particularly the invitation of Trump. Controversy grew when ASMSU began removing comments and blocking users, later restored, that criticized the Republican presidential candidate.
In the immediacy of procrastinated papers, 8 a.m. classes, dull reading assignments, and topped with grueling hours at work, politics can be among the first thing to slip the mind of a college student. Just one month is all that remains before the presidential elections will decide a new leader of the American people. Unregistered voters have an even shorter window, Oct. 11, to ensure that their voice can be heard on election day. “It’s easy to feel minuscule,” said Max Offerman, a freshman environmental economics and management major at MSU and first time voter.
With just over a month until voters head to the polls, some are tired of unregistered Americans not taking this year’s presidential election seriously. Mason Sitar, a chemical engineer at Michigan State University, said he understands some Millennials feeling disenchanted about the political process but said registering and voting is more important now than any other time. “The new policies that are going to be influenced heavily by our next president are going to affect us young people more than any other voting group,” said Sitar. “This is simply because we are going to have a longer time to live with those policies. This is why it is so important to have our voices heard.”
Although she called Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton “very flawed,” Lauren Scott, a 22-year-old MSU communications grad, said she’s trying to convince her “Bernie or bust” friends to vote on Nov.
“I don’t like the way the elections are going right now,” said Peyton Holtcamp. Saying she isn’t fond of either candidate, Holtcamp described the 2016 election as a mess. “It’s between a nutcase and a nitwit. There is no winning this term,” she said. Holtcamp, 21, is not currently registered to vote, but plans on registering to vote for this year’s election.
As the presidential election draws nearer, not all potential voters are feeling the political fervor others may be feeling. One Michigan State University student doesn’t intend to even register to vote, given the nation’s current political discourse. “I don’t care much for this election,” said Ryan Riger, a psychology freshman at MSU. “It’s an unfortunate crapshoot for both parties.”
Riger is an 18-year-old Bloomfield Hills native, and 2016 will mark the first presidential election he is eligible to vote for, but he remains unregistered to vote. He explains that he has no intention on changing that, if both primary candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t change their current campaign paths.