Single-Digit Turnout, Six-Figure Price Tag

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

Just more than seven percent of registered voters in the city of Lansing made it to the polls Tuesday.

The process cost the city about $45,000.

"So about $7 a vote," Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope calculates.

The turnout in Eaton County wasn't much bigger.

"Twelve percent," according to county Clerk Fran Fuller. Fuller says the county budgeted about $60,000 for the primaries.

She admits that turnout was low, even for an August election. So if summer vote turnouts are always low, why couldn't the countywide Medical Care Facility millage wait until fall?

"There was a time frame that the county had to work with and this was the election," Fuller told News 10.

That's because once the county found out the expansion could happen, it was too late to get it on the May ballot. And construction couldn't have started when it needs to if the millage appeared on November's ballot.

In Lansing, a proposal allowing the city to potentially sell some riverfront land had a time-sensitive element as well.

But in the future, Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton says he thinks the city ought to consider following East Lansing's lead and get rid of primary elections.

"In these fiscal times all of us -- county government, city government, township government, school districts -- have to look at ways of saving money any way that we can," Bryanton said.

It's not his decision to make. It's not Swope's either.

The city clerk is not taking sides but he says primaries do some good. They narrow the field of candidates and the turnout isn't always so low.

"We've seen it as high as 19 percent when there's a hotly-contested mayor's race," Swope said.

But this year it was less than half that.

Ultimately, getting rid of the primaries would require a putting a proposal on the ballot.

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