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 Election official Jill Warren shows a frame that residents could use to take selfies with at the Ferndale Area District Library Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Election official Jill Warren shows a frame that residents could use to take selfies with at the Ferndale Area District Library Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Ferndale, Berkley see notable turnouts with major elections

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 12, 2019

OAKLAND COUNTY — Thanks to several contested elections, the voter turnout for cities in the Woodward Talk’s coverage area was higher than usual.

The 2019 election saw each city hit a turnout of more than 25%.

Ferndale had the benefit of three contested races — one for mayor and two for City Council. Its nine precincts brought in 4,467 voters out of 15,976 who were registered, equaling a turnout of 27.96%.

The city had a morning rush of voters, according to City Clerk Marne McGrath, which she said is typical, as people want to cast their votes before going to work.

“Beyond that, it was a smooth day,” she said. “I went to several precincts, and there was a steady flow of voters but never like a huge line or a backup in the precincts.”

This year was also the first with same-day voter registration, where voters were allowed to register and vote on Election Day with no issues. McGrath noted that around a dozen people took advantage of the new rule.

Overall, McGrath felt the election and nearly 28% turnout, which she attributed to contested races and more choices for voters on the ballot, was good for Ferndale.

“The past few elections, we haven’t had a lot of competition in the races, so I think when people don’t feel like there’s as many people to vote for, they don’t bother,” she said.

Berkley also saw contested elections in its mayoral and City Council races. The city saw 3,504 people cast votes out of 12,819 registered voters, a 27.334% turnout.

City Clerk Victoria Mitchell said that there definitely was a rush of voters in the morning and after work, with some minor lines, but other than that, the flow was “somewhat regular” throughout the day.

Mitchell could see the higher turnout due to the attention drawn by the City Council races, but also because of the proposals on the ballot, one of which was for the Berkley School District.

The local ballot question was overwhelmingly approved by voters, with 4,558 people voting yes and 1,349 voting no. The proposal allows the district to levy a rate not to exceed 18 mills on “all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law,” according to the ballot language.

The other proposal was an operating millage renewal for Oakland Community College, which was approved with more than 72% of the vote.

“I would anticipate that supporters of education came out to support the bond proposals, but primarily I would say (City Council) was the focus,” Mitchell said. “I was pleased with the turnout.”

Mitchell recently became Berkley’s city clerk. She previously worked in Clawson as deputy city clerk and, while there, she was anticipating the type of turnout she would later see in Berkley.

Neither Huntington Woods nor Pleasant Ridge had contested races for its elections, but both did have ballot questions for residents to answer.

Huntington Woods saw 1,654 voters show up out of 5,464 registered to its five precincts, equaling a 30.27% turnout. Pleasant Ridge’s two precincts had 697 people vote out of a possible 2,422 registered, which was a 28.777% voter turnout.