Election in Harper Woods goes without incident

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published November 10, 2016

HARPER WOODS — Residents and officials agreed that, regardless of which candidates won or which issues were approved, Election Day in Harper Woods moved forward smoothly and without any major incidents.

The Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP branch put forth several programs in the weeks leading up to the election, including talking about various ballot issues, educating the public on their voting rights and resources, and encouraging people to exercise their right to vote.

“The efforts of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP were largely successful,” said Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP President Greg Bowens. “It’s our first year in existence, so by virtue of being out there taking action, we were a success, but we also had some great get-out-the-vote efforts in the last few weeks in local neighborhoods and at local hot spots, and our feedback was overwhelmingly positive meeting with people, and I think residents were taking the effort of bringing communities together seriously.”

Bowens reported that it was a smooth Election Day, albeit one where voters at certain metro Detroit precincts encountered long wait times. 

“There were some long lines in the area. I waited 90 minutes in line in Grosse Pointe for instance,” said Bowens. He also mentioned hearing about long waits at an Eastpointe precinct. 

“This could have driven some people away due to frustration,” he said.

Harper Woods representatives said that fortunately, despite strong voter turnout, lines of that nature weren’t present in their city.

“We had a great plan in place, great people running our precincts, and I think everything went well,” said Harper Woods City Clerk Leslie Frank. “We had some long lines, but I don’t think anyone waited longer than 30 minutes in Harper Woods.”

If Bowens had one significant concern about Election Day, it actually occurred in the run-up to Nov. 8.

“Our organization had some concern about the lack of information being distributed about certain issues by the local clerks’ offices in the eastern suburbs of Detroit,” said Bowens. “I think there could have been more effort put forth in publicizing issues in those areas.”

There were no reported incidents of partisan interference or voter intimidation in the Harper Woods or Grosse Pointe area. Bowens only found one odd case from the community which may have confused voters more than worried them.

“We had no reported cases of voter intimidation in this area,” said Bowens. “We had one unusual occurrence in Harper Woods where a polling place was in a courtroom in front of the judge’s bench, and the judge was arraigning people via video conference in the morning while people were voting. I don’t think this was anything illicit. It was probably just a matter of Harper Woods not having enough space to satisfy both the needs of the court and the needs of the election, but I’ve never heard of this happening before.” 

“Just one person was arraigned during that time, and I believe it was done rather quickly, and it was nothing out of the ordinary,” Frank said.

Overall, Frank said, the election was a smooth one for Harper Woods residents.

“I think the residents of Harper Woods came out, no one was angry with one another, and we received no complaints of harassment, so I think we have a great community of voters here,” she said.