Marquette County sees voter increase in midterm

Official: Tuesday balloting topped 2014

Voters walk into the precinct 4 voting center at the Marquette Municipal Service Center along Wright Street to cast their ballots for the general election on Tuesday morning. Officials say extraordinarily large numbers of people cast ballots Tuesday. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE — Almost 8,000 more Marquette County residents cast their ballots Tuesday compared with the November 2014 midterm election.

The overall turnout in the county reached over 58 percent, according to County Clerk Linda Talsma. With around 51,000 registered voters in Marquette County, over 30,000 voted. In comparison, the turnout was almost 45 percent in the Nov. 4, 2014 midterm election, with just above 22,000 cards cast.

“That being said, there was definitely a considerably higher voter turnout at this election,” Talsma said. “(It’s) great to see people of all ages becoming interested in taking the time to vote on important issues.”

While midterm and presidential elections generally see more people at the polls than the primary, Talsma said this election had three statewide proposals that seemed to trigger interest among many voters for various reasons.

The proposals, which consisted of regulating marijuana like alcohol, creating an independent redistricting commission to draw legislative district lines and making voting more accessible — were all approved by Michigan voters.

More than 4.3 million voters cast ballots statewide, the highest turnout rate in 56 years, according to an Associated Press article.

The turnout percentage even equaled or surpassed levels in the 1996 and 1988 presidential races. Higher-than-usual absentee voting had signaled the increased voter interest across the state, the article states.

According AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey consisting of about 138,000 voters and nonvoters, 4 percent of this year’s voters were first-timers.

While primary elections generally have lower voter turnouts, a record 2.2 million voters participated in the August primary, surpassing the state’s record 1.7 million turnout during the 2002 primary, the Michigan Secretary of State website states.

Voter turnout in Marquette County was nearly double as compared to the most recent primary midterm election, with 14,156 ballots cast on Aug. 7 as opposed to 8,236 during the Aug. 5, 2014 midterm primary, according to the SOS.

Talsma said she believes more people want to be involved and have their voices heard.

“I have spoke with many voters (and) it seems as though people feel they want to become more involved and have a voice through voting,” she said. “It was nice to see many new registers voters become engaged with the process, as it is their constitutional right.”

Thanks to the hard work and many hours put in by local clerks and precinct inspections “that are dedicated to serving the public in this capacity,” Talsma said Election Day went fairly smooth and no one was turned away from the polls.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.