At King High School on the city’s east side, a smattering of people were outside rallying for their candidates and encouraging passersby to vote. One of them, city employee Ellen Conyers, was optimistic.
“I can say that most voters have been opinionated and called their neighbors to come out and vote,” she said. “The people want a change. Several people received campaign literature and brought it back to their friends.”
Inside the school, which was the locale for District 9 and the 21st and 24th precincts, the halls were lined with empty voting booths. Poll workers sat at the tables with stacks of unused ballots, occasionally fanning themselves to get some relief from the sweltering heat from outside.
Poll worker Linda Godfrey said the numbers were especially low today.
“About 35 to 40 people came to vote since we opened at 7 a.m.,” she said, looking at her watch. It was 1:15 p.m. “At this time of he day, it should be higher. Maybe the crowd will be higher when the after-work crowd comes in after 3 p.m.”
Godfrey believed that it was the volume of candidates on the ballot that caused today’s voter turnout.
“This time, there are so many people on the ballot and it scared off people,” she said. “They read the literature and they feel that it really doesn’t tell much about the candidates. Many of them would rather not vote. I hear them saying, ‘I don’t see any difference’.”
At nearby Chrysler Elementary School, poll workers reported that more than 100 people had voted since the polls opened.
“We have dedicated people here and many of the candidates live in this area,” said poll worker Catherine.
Her supervisor, Vanessa Harden, agreed that their polling site at District 11, Precinct 38, usually has sizable numbers in the several years that she has worked there.
“We usually get 230 people that have (routinely) shown up for all the elections this year,” said Harden. “We get a lot of absentee ballots here.”
Outside to shield themselves from the heat, supporters for various candidates found shade underneath the trees on the school’s lawn.
Ray, a Freddie Payne supporter, had been outside for several hours passing out flyers and encouraging others to vote.
“I’ve been out since this morning,” he said. “It’s been light today in my opinion. Some people I heard didn’t even know that today was voting day.”
Maryann Leonard, a senior citizen, identified herself as a “regular voter” and offered another reason why the turnout was low.
“We just don’t show up,” she said referring to the eligible voters in Detroit. “People are discouraged so they don’t come out. We will come out for Obama but for everything else, we don’t show up.
“I always vote,” she added. “It’s gonna be a good day because we are here at the voting site.”
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