People at the Ferndale Area District Library sign in to vote during the Nov. 3 general election. The turnout in Ferndale was 77.86% of registered voters, which City Clerk Marne McGrath believed to be the city’s highest turnout in modern history.

People at the Ferndale Area District Library sign in to vote during the Nov. 3 general election. The turnout in Ferndale was 77.86% of registered voters, which City Clerk Marne McGrath believed to be the city’s highest turnout in modern history.

Photo by Mike Koury


Cities see highest voter turnout in modern history

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 9, 2020

Advertisement

OAKLAND COUNTY — Cities in the Woodward Talk’s coverage area saw their highest turnout ever for a modern election.

The cities of Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge each had turnouts higher than 77%, all higher than the turnout for Oakland County as a whole, which was 74.88%. The data comes from Oakland County’s election website and the cities themselves.

Ferndale’s nine precincts hold 16,799 registered voters. Out of that total, 13,079 voted in the November election, equaling a turnout of 77.86%.

In the last presidential election, Ferndale saw 11,486 ballots cast from 15,578 registered voters, bringing in a turnout of 73.73%.

City Clerk Marne McGrath believes the turnout was the highest in “modern Ferndale history,” with three times as many voters returning an absentee ballot to those who voted in person.

“That’s pretty consistent with what happened in August as well,” she said. “Generally, we have about a 30% absentee ballot rate and 70% in person, and that has flipped this year, most likely due to COVID. A much higher turnout on the absentee side, but a great turnout overall — over 13,000 voters.”

Given the number of absentee ballots that Ferndale had issued, which was just under 10,000, McGrath said they were expecting most of the turnout would be by absentee ballot.

“Overall, (poll workers) were busy in the morning — but that’s how it always goes — and busy in the evening and closing time,” she said.

Berkley’s turnout from its seven precincts was 80.71%. The city saw 10,868 votes from 13,465 registered voters.

In 2016, Berkley had a turnout of 76.18%, with 9,538 hitting the polls out of 12,520 registered voters.

With its one precinct, Pleasant Ridge had a turnout of 80.86%. This year, 2,032 voters cast or returned a ballot out of 2,513 registered voters in the city.

In 2016, the city had 2,331 registered voters, with 1,855 voting, for a turnout of 79.58%.

For the city of Huntington Woods and its five precincts, the turnout was 85.16%. The election had 4,894 voters cast a ballot out of 5,747 registered voters, according to the city.

Compared to 2016, Huntington Woods slightly increased its turnout. That year, the city had a turnout of 83.15%, as 4,435 people voted out of 5,334.

City Clerk Heidi Barckholtz also felt this might have been the highest modern turnout for Huntington Woods.

She noted that almost three quarters of the city’s voters voted absentee. For all five precincts, Huntington Woods issued 3,970 ballots, of which 3,926 were returned. The other 968 voters voted in person.

“Our polls were busy first out the gate,” Barckholtz said. “I’d say the first four or five hours were pretty steady, and then 4 p.m., it dropped. Nothing. I mean, our poll workers, it was quiet for them. It was definitely easier as far as there wasn’t this mad rush all day long.”

Advertisement