Eastpointe resident Shondre Hatcher casts her votes for candidates and proposals at the Eastpointe High School gym Nov. 5.

Eastpointe resident Shondre Hatcher casts her votes for candidates and proposals at the Eastpointe High School gym Nov. 5.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Lucido and Curley elected in Eastpointe’s first ranked-choice City Council election

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 6, 2019


EASTPOINTE — Incumbent Sarah Lucido and former Eastpointe Mayor Harvey Curley have been elected to the Eastpointe City Council in the city’s first election using ranked-choice voting.

In ranked-choice voting, the winners are those who reach a threshold of required votes. If none reach that threshold, the lower-ranked choices of those whose first-choice candidates received the lowest number of votes and were eliminated from the running are added to the respective candidates. Eastpointe is the first community in Michigan to use such a vote tabulation method.

The minimum number of votes each candidate needed to be elected was 1,664 due to it being mathematically impossible for three or more candidates to receive that many votes simultaneously based on the number of ballots cast. Lucido received 1,855 in the first round of counting, so she was automatically elected. 

Curley was elected in the second round of counting after the lowest-scoring candidate was eliminated and the second-choice votes from those cast for the lowest-scoring candidate were redistributed to the remaining candidates. Additionally, the second-choice votes on ballots that had Lucido as their first choice were divided by 191 — the number of excess votes she received over the number she needed to win — and were added to their respective choices. This gave Curley a total of 1,610 votes initially, and 1,673.9009 votes after the redistribution.

The other challengers, Mary Hall-Rayford and Larry Edwards, each initially received 465 and 154 votes, respectively, in the first round.

Jeniffer Woodward, chair of Precinct 1, said that despite some confusion about the new voting process after it was announced in August, voters seemed to be prepared for it on Election Day.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s gone very smoothly,” she said. “We only had a few spoiled ballots and a few people who were confused, but after they had it explained, they seemed to adjust just fine.”

“People’s opinions have been pretty neutral,” added Craig Wodecki, the chair for Precinct 2 in Eastpointe. “The city did a great job getting the information about it out there. We’ve only had a few questions and have had no complaints.”

Both chairs credited efforts by the city of Eastpointe with educating voters during the weeks leading up to the election.

“City Hall did a good job getting the word out, and everyone had a chance to have any questions they might have had answered at the town hall meetings that were organized,” Woodward said. “Most people who came in seemed to have a very thorough understanding of the situation.”

The decision to implement ranked-choice voting came as the result of a lawsuit brought forward by the United States Department of Justice stating that minorities in Eastpointe had a more difficult time electing candidates due to the geographic breakdowns within the city. Representatives from the DOJ were on hand to ensure the new election process was functioning as expected.

“Everyone seemed to be aware of the DOJ ruling,” said Woodward. “We had representatives from the DOJ here this morning inspecting the ranked-choice voting implementation and asking us about our procedures, but everything seemed to be going smoothly and they said they were pleased with what they saw.”

Not all residents were pleased with ranked-choice voting. Eastpointe resident Christine Timmon had issued a legal challenge to the city’s agreement with the Department of Justice before the election and believes that the method is unconstitutional.

“I think it backfired as far as I’m concerned. We didn’t get anyone of color elected to City Council, but I do think the right people got in. I still think it violates the Constitution,” she said. “All I want is to ask the courts if this is something that is allowed under the Constitution.”

Generally, residents leaving the polls seemed to come away with a positive or neutral opinion of the new voting method.

“I liked (ranked-choice voting),” remarked Eastpointe voter Shondre Hatcher. “I think a lot of cities should do it. It wasn’t quite black and white, but it was clear enough. … I think the city did a good job explaining it.”

“I think it opened up opportunities for a diverse population to represent the city,” said Eastpointe voter Lynn Sossi. “It allows people to look at all their choices instead of just focusing on one top choice. … I welcome the oversight to create a community open to many different types of people.”

“I think it’s a pretty good idea, since you can pick who you like right on down the line,” said Eastpointe voter Howard Tibbets. “It’s especially a good idea when you’re voting for several candidates in the same race, like we’re doing today.”

“Regardless of how people vote, I think there’s as much of a chance of minority candidates getting elected either way,” said Hatcher. “I’m glad the DOJ is bringing the issue to people’s attention though.”

“I was never exactly clear on why the Department of Justice came in, but if it’s to make the community better, I’m all for it,” Tibbets said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to keep doing it this way.”