Farmington, Farmington HillsAugust 15, 2012
Primary draws less than 30 percent of voters
By David Wallace
C & G Staff Writer
FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — The Aug. 7 primary election was relatively free of controversy and closely contested races, which might explain why less than 30 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the two communities.
Turnout came in just a shade under 30 percent in Farmington — 29.77 to be exact — which was about 10 points less than the primary held in the last presidential election year in 2008. In all, Farmington saw 1,130 Republican ballots cast and 990 Democratic Party ballots cast. A total of 134 voters did not vote in the partisan sections of the ballot, meaning they only voted for millages and Oakland County Circuit Court judge.
In Farmington Hills, Clerk Pam Smith said the 27.2 percent of registered voters who cast ballots was expected. There were 6,828 voters who chose Republican candidates and 8,669 who chose Democratic candidates, as well as 702 nonpartisan ballots cast.
Countywide, turnout was not quite 26 percent. The low turnout led to slow days at the polling sites.
“It was very smooth. It was pretty quiet out at the polls,” said Smith.
“It went well. We had a few minor glitches in terms of the equipment, but overall it went well,” said Farmington City Clerk Sue Halberstadt.
Both communities overwhelmingly supported the two Oakland County millage proposals on the ballot — one for the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the other to renew 0.59 mill for Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation bus service.
In Farmington, 1,639 voters supported the Oakland County Art Institute Authority Millage, while 547 voted against it, a 3-1 ratio. In Farmington Hills, the numbers were 11,367 for and 4,196 against, 73-27 percent. Countywide, the millage passed 64-36 percent.
The public transportation millage earned even greater support. Farmington voters supported it 1,741 to 440, and Farmington Hills voters supported it 12,208 to 3,307. Those are almost 4-1 margins in both communities, and that margin extended countywide.
At the top of the ballot, Republicans chose their Senate candidate to run against incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Statewide winner Pete Hoekstra beat challenger Clark Durant in both communities. Hoekstra earned 567 votes in Farmington and 3,582 votes in Farmington Hills, compared with 388 and 2,448, respectively, for Durant. Other candidates Gary Glenn and Randy Hekman did not reach 5 percent of the vote in either community.
The top race for Democrats in Farmington Hills pitted Gary Peters against Hansen Clarke and three other challengers for the newly drawn 14th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Peters garnered 6,237 votes in Farmington Hills to Clarke’s 1,071. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence received 874 votes. Districtwide, stretching into Wayne County, Peters collected about 41,000 votes to Clarke’s approximately 31,000. Peters will face Republican John Hauler in the general election.
Farmington had a different U.S. House of Representatives race, as redrawn districts split it from Farmington Hills. In the 11th District, Farmington’s Republican voters saw only eventual winner Kerry Bentivolio’s name on the ballot, but former state Sen. Nancy Cassis attempted a write-in candidacy following Thaddeus McCotter’s failure to make the ballot and subsequent withdrawal from office.
Bentivolio received 617 votes to 330 write-ins: There were two other largely unknown write-in candidates declared, Loren Bennett and Drexel Morton.
Among Democrats seeking the 11th District seat, Farmington’s Democratic voters preferred Syed Taj, with 502 votes, to William F. Roberts, who garnered 371. Districtwide, which includes some of Wayne County, Taj beat Roberts, with about 22,000 votes to about 15,000 votes.
Many of the other races featured unchallenged candidates and incumbents, or incumbents against relative minnows in races that were not close. An exception of note for local voters was the Democratic race to oppose incumbent Republican John McCulloch for water resources commissioner, where former Farmington Hills County Commissioner Jim Nash prevailed 62-38 percent countywide over Mark Danowski, and 70-29 percent and 68-32 percent in Farmington Hills and Farmington, respectively.
In the nonpartisan election for Oakland County Circuit Court judge, Farmington and Farmington Hills both supported Karen McDonald, who won countywide with about 35 percent of the vote among five candidates. She received that exact percentage in Farmington Hills and 43 percent of the vote in Farmington. McDonald drew about 20,000 more votes countywide than Dan Christ, who also advanced to the general election.
There were 434 crossover ballots in Farmington Hills and 58 in Farmington, most of them from absentee voters who did not follow directions to vote for only one party, though some people at the polls also insisted on submitting a crossover ballot when the tabulating machine warned them of the error. Smith said some people simply chose to do so or felt they didn’t have time to correct it.
“It just invalidates the partisan section,” Smith said. The nonpartisan votes on those ballots still count.
The general election will be Nov. 6.
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