From left, Precinct 5 Chair Reid Kurvink and election inspector Catherine McCuish keep busy with Grosse Pointe Park voters at Defer Elementary School during the presidential primary March 10.

From left, Precinct 5 Chair Reid Kurvink and election inspector Catherine McCuish keep busy with Grosse Pointe Park voters at Defer Elementary School during the presidential primary March 10.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Presidential primary draws more than 40% of voters in most Pointes

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 17, 2020

GROSSE POINTES — They may not have headed to the polls in droves — more voters than usual took advantage of the state’s no-excuse absentee voting to cast their ballots ahead of time — but voters in the Grosse Pointes did make their voices heard during the presidential primary election March 10.

According to preliminary vote tallies available at press time, about 44% of registered voters cast ballots in Grosse Pointe Farms. President Donald J. Trump was the big winner on the Republican Party side of the ballot, getting more than 92% of the vote, while on the Democratic Party side, former Vice President Joe Biden was the favorite with more than 61%, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with over 27%.

Farms voters overwhelmingly supported a millage renewal for the Detroit Institute of Arts, with 83.9% in favor and 16.1% opposed. Trump and Biden were the winners in Michigan as well.

“Turnout’s been steady, and AV (absentee voting) turnout has been higher than expected,” Farms City Clerk/Assistant City Manager Derrick Kozicki said.

With Michigan voters casting ballots after a number of other states, the field of Democratic Party candidates had been substantially winnowed down by the time of the Michigan primary. A number of big-name candidates — including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg — dropped out of the race in the days before March 10, leading to many Michigan voters wanting to change their absentee ballots after they had submitted them because their candidate was no longer in the running.

“The spoiling of absentee ballots really put a lot of stress on clerks’ offices statewide,” Kozicki said. He estimated that roughly 100 ballots in the Farms alone got changed by voters.

In Grosse Pointe Park, approximately 45% of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in the primary, with Republican voters strongly favoring Trump — who got 91.4% of the Park vote. The margin between Biden and Sanders was slimmer in the Park, where Biden received 55.75% of the Democratic vote and Sanders received 35.34%. The DIA millage renewal passed by a wide margin, with 85.83% supporting it and 14.17% voting against it.

“I feel like it’s light,” said Anita Adams, an election inspector at Precinct 6 at Defer Elementary School, with regard to voter turnout. “The ballot is very simple this time.”

More than half of the Republican ballots and over 30% of the Democratic ballots cast in the Park were absentee.

“It’s been very steady,” Catherine McCuish, an election inspector at Precinct 5 at Defer, said of the turnout.

Similar sentiments were expressed by election officials across the street at Pierce Middle School, which houses Precincts 4 and 7.

Bernadine Sherwood, the chair of Precinct 4, summed up voter turnout as “slow and steady” all day, with a “big boost” around the dinner hour.

“It’s just picking up now, because people are getting out of work,” said Judy Wanderer, the chair of Precinct 7.

Numbers were similar in Grosse Pointe City, where almost 43% of the City’s 4,938 voters took part in the primary. Trump got 93.14% from Republican voters, while those who cast Democratic ballots gave Biden 63.58% and Sanders 27.74% of the vote. City voters showed a lot of love for the DIA millage, with 86.62% voting in favor of the millage and only 13.38% voting against it.

In Grosse Pointe Shores, Trump received 351 votes on the Republican side. Among those voting Democratic, Biden led with 275 votes, while Sanders received 131 votes. The DIA millage got strong support in the Shores as well, with 605 voting in favor and 226 voting against it. Roughly 34% of the Shores’ 2,454 registered voters participated in the primary.

“It’s been busier than anticipated,” Shores Election Administrator/interim City Manager Tom Krolczyk said.

He said the Shores had gotten about 355 absentee ballots, “which is pretty good for an election like this.”

Krolczyk said the Shores didn’t see too many voters who had to change their ballots; that could have been because the Shores is heavily Republican, so the shifting Democratic candidate lineup didn’t have as great of an impact.

“We have gotten more people registering to vote on the same day,” said Krolczyk, referring to a new state law that enables people to register and vote the day of an election. He said about five Shores voters did this during the primary, which is notable given the small size of the community.

In 2012, voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a 10-year, 0.2-mill levy for the DIA. Voters in all three counties March 10 approved extending that millage for another 10 years, until 2031. The renewal millage will go into effect when the current millage expires in two years, and provides for free general admission to the museum for residents of the three counties, free weekly programs for seniors that include free bus transportation for groups, and free field trips and transportation for 80,000 students annually, according to DIA officials. For the owner of a home worth $150,000, the millage costs $15 per year.

“The DIA is a true cultural treasure, and we thank the voters of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties for renewing their support for this renowned institution that gives one-of-a-kind access to art, culture and history,” said DIA Board Chair Eugene A. Gargaro, of Grosse Pointe Shores, in a press release. “We also want to thank our amazing team of volunteers and supporters who made phone calls, did mailings, put up lawn signs, and worked tirelessly to spread the message of why the DIA is part of what makes our community a great place to live, work and raise a family.”