Farmington/Hills clerks see increased voter turnout amidst pandemic

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 5, 2020


FARMINGTON/HILLS — Clerk Mary Mullison in Farmington and Clerk Pam Smith in Farmington Hills said the voting process went pretty well Aug. 4.

Despite working through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been underscored by a number of health and safety recommendations — some, like mask wearing, more controversial than others — Mullison and Smith said voters remained respectful and compliant with the protocols their offices put in place.

Mullison’s election inspection workers reported feeling safe. Smith “expected a little more controversy” on the topic of wearing a mask while voting but found that to be less of an issue than anticipated. The smaller pool of voters who voted at the polls — Smith said none of her precincts saw a line build up outside — may have contributed to that.

Voters may not have taken to the polls en masse as they usually do, but Mullison and Smith both saw their cities’ total voter turnout increase tremendously.

Of the 7,642 registered voters in Farmington, Mullison said, 3,230 voters, or 42%, cast ballots. Absentee voting came in at 72% of the votes, while 28% of voters cast their ballots at the polls. For the 2016 gubernatorial August primary, Mullison said, the absentee versus polls voting was split 50/50. Overall, voter turnout doubled from 2016, she said.

Farmington Hills saw a 39% voter turnout this year. Of those voters, 18,833 cast absentee ballots — a 79.5% return rate — and just over 6,000 voted at the polls. Smith said the number of absentee ballots was higher than the city’s averages for November elections, and her total voter turnout doubled, too.

While ballots from Farmington were transferred to the Oakland County Elections Division for day-of counting, in Farmington Hills, Smith’s office was counting ballots using four high-speed scanners. Mullison was pleased with the expediency that came with partnering with the county, and she plans to do so again in November. Smith’s counts went rather smoothly throughout the day, as well, until an influx of about 1,000 ballots were turned in within the last hour of the polls being open.

Both Mullison and Smith anticipate receiving a handful of ballots in the mail following the 8 p.m. election day deadline, which won’t be counted. Many who feared their vote wouldn’t be counted signed an affidavit to void their absentee ballot and instead cast their vote at the polls, they said.


Election results
At the national level, Republican Eric Esshaki won the nomination for representative of U.S. House District 11 with 18,315 votes. Esshaki will face Democratic incumbent Haley Stevens in September.

Incumbent Brenda Lawrence swept the Democratic nomination for representative of U.S. House District 14 from Terrance Morrison with 64,130 votes to 3,981. On the Republican side, Robert Vance Patrick won the nomination against Daryle Houston, 8,242 votes to 4,636.

Current Farmington Hills City Council member Samantha Steckloff won the Democratic nomination for state House District 37 representative with 8,991 votes against challengers Michael Bridges and Randy Bruce. Steckloff will face Republican Mitch Swoboda, who ran unopposed, in November.

Incumbent Oakland County Executive David Coulter secured his spot on the November ballot in a close race against challenger, and current county treasurer, Andy Meisner with 109,599 to 93,321. Coulter will face Republican Mike Kowall, who beat challenger Jeffery G. Nutt 91,395 votes to 30,487, for the county’s top spot in November.

Democrat Karen McDonald took the lead for Oakland County prosecutor with 131,340 votes over incumbent Jessica Cooper, who received 68,221 votes. McDonald will face Republican Liz Goetz, who ran unopposed, in November.

The Democratic nomination for Oakland County Sheriff went to Vincent Gregory, with 80,679 votes. Gregory will face 20-year Republican incumbent Michael Bouchard for the position in November.

Tina Barton won the Republican nomination for Oakland County clerk and register of deeds over Patrick Wilson with 74,018 votes to 41,724. Barton will face sitting Democrat Lisa Brown in November.

For county treasurer, Robert Wittenberg won the Democratic nomination against challenger Robert Corbett with 125,259 votes, and Joe Kent won the Republican nomination against challenger Susan Anderson with 61,504 votes. The two will face off in November.

Republican Jim Stevens secured the nomination for water resources commissioner against challengers Robert Buxbaum and Steven Johnson. Stevens will face Farmington Hills Democrat Jim Nash, who ran unopposed, in November.

Democrat William Miller and Republican Theresa Noseworth both ran unopposed for the Oakland County Commissioner District 14 seat. They’ll face off in November.

In the non-partisan race for judge of the 6th Circuit Court, Lorie Savin narrowly won the race with 83,388 votes against challengers Clarence Dass, who had 81,998 votes, and Maura Battersby Murphy, who had 50,908 votes.

For more election information, visit