Shelby Township, Utica voters surpass county turnout

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 14, 2012

 Voters line up to cast their ballots Nov. 6 at Crissman Elementary School in Shelby 

Voters line up to cast their ballots Nov. 6 at Crissman Elementary School in Shelby Township.

Photo by Brad D. Bates

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The Shelby Township voter turnout was among the highest in Macomb County communities Nov. 6.

Shelby Township turnout spiked from a 28-percent mark during the Aug. 7 local and federal primary elections to a 71-percent mark with U.S. presidential candidates and six state proposals on the ballot.

The turnout was second only to Macomb Township’s 73 percent among Macomb County cities or townships with populations of at least 50,000.

“I couldn’t be more pleased because of the way the system functioned,” Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot said of the election that kept him and his staff busy until 4:30 a.m. Nov. 7.

“Because of the great people in my office, and those at the polls, my job is very easy to organize it and conduct the election,” he said.

Grot did acknowledge some changes are necessary to accommodate large crowds like those that were forced to wait in line outside of the precinct 14 polling location at Mae Stecker Park, where temperatures dipped below 40 degrees.

“Now I’ll sit down and look at the map and make some changes,” Grot said. “We’re going to make some precinct-location changes and make them more accessible and a more pleasant environment for everyone that comes out to vote.”

Shelby’s turnout mark was above the county turnout of 66.1 percent, and Utica’s voter turnout edged the county with a 66.5-percent turnout.

“It was from 6:15 in the morning straight through to 10 o’clock at night for us,” Utica City Clerk Cathy McGrail said. “One of our assessors offered to take the reports over to the county clerk’s office, so I was very grateful for that. We had a tremendous turnout.

“The heavy (absentee voter) ballot activity was higher than what we’ve ever experienced in the city, so it was an additional surprise, but it was a good surprise,” McGrail added. “I’m glad it only happens once every four years, but I was tickled to see everyone out voting.”

The 66.5 percent turnout Utica saw was down from the 69.3 percent turnout in the 2008 general election, and in Shelby Township’s November 2008 election, voters turned out at a 72.8-percent rate.

Among the 38,414 Shelby Township residents who came out to vote, the single race that saw the most activity was the presidential race, with 99.1 percent of voters choosing a candidate on their ballots. In all, 22,420 voted for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 15,281 voted for President Barack Obama.

The U.S. Senate race followed, with 96.5 percent of voters casting a vote in the race. The state ballot Proposal 2, which contained language pertaining to unions and collective bargaining rights, saw 96.4 percent of voters make a choice.

In the local races, township supervisor saw the most activity, with 82.9 percent making a choice between incumbent Supervisor Richard Stathakis and independent David Erickson.

“If I didn’t know anything about the candidates, I did not (vote),” Cheryl Gould said of races she left blank on her ballot after voting at Crissman Elementary in Shelby Township. “I only vote for what I know. Otherwise I would just be picking names, and I’m not going to pick names.”

In Utica, 99.2 percent of voters who hit the polls cast a ballot for president, with 1,121 voters siding with Romney and 1,090 favoring Obama.

The U.S. Senate race followed, with 96.6 percent activity, and the United States representative race for District 10 saw 95.2-percent activity.

Among the state ballot proposals in Utica, Proposal 2 led with 95.1 percent activity, followed closely by Proposal 6, which featured language concerning construction of international bridges and tunnels; it had 95 percent activity.

In Utica, no state ballot proposal-voting activity dipped below 93.4 percent, and in Shelby Township, that number didn’t fall blow 93.8 percent.

“The national election is huge and a big decision, but in the state of Michigan, you have all those proposals, so you want to have your say on those, as well,” Francesco Esposito said after casting his ballot at Crissman. 

“I was totally sick of the commercials after a short time, but I tried not to let them influence my decision too much,” Esposito added.

In the local U.S. congressional races, incumbents Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Candice Miller won re-election and were supported by Shelby Township and Utica.

Stabenow outgained Republican challenger Pete Hoekstra 18,112 to 17,762 in Shelby Township and 1,233 to 873 in Utica to win her second six-year term.

Miller won her sixth two-year term in Congress, besting Democrat challenger Chuck Stadler 8,806 to 3,362 in Shelby Township and 1,349 to 767 in Utica.

Other local elections saw incumbent Republican state representatives Jeff Farrington in District 30 and Peter Lund in District 36 re-elected.

Farrington bested challenger Joseph Bogdan with 53.3 percent of the vote, and Lund won his nomination against Robert Murphy with 64.1 percent of the vote.

Shelby Township and Utica’s Macomb County Commission seats went to incumbents, as James Carabelli topped Ken Reid in District 6 with 58.6 percent of the vote, and Don Brown beat James C. Winne with 68.9 percent in District 7.

The Macomb Community College Facilities and Technology Bond Proposal, which failed countywide with 52.9 percent of the vote against it, received just 43.2 percent support in Shelby Township and 46.9-percent approval in Utica.

On the six statewide ballot proposals, Shelby Township and Utica voters wanted to approve Proposal 1 and reject all other proposals. All six proposals went down statewide.

Shelby voters supported Proposal 1 with 61.1 percent of the vote, were against Proposal 2 by 65.8 percent, against Proposal 3 by 68.7 percent, against Proposal 4 by 64.3 percent, against Proposal 5 by 68.4 percent and against Proposal 6 by 64.3 percent.

Utica voters supported Proposal 1 with 53.8 percent of the vote, were against Proposal 2 by 57.8 percent, against Proposal 3 by 64 percent, against Proposal 4 by 55.8 percent, against Proposal 5 by 64.4 percent and against Proposal 6 by 58.3 percent.