Why are there so many uncontested candidates in Mid-Michigan?

There are 170 races on Mid-Michigan ballots that are uncontested. That means either no one is running or the people on the ballot didn’t have an opponent
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In Mid-Michigan, there are 170 races on the 2022 ballot that are uncontested. That means either no one is running or the people on the ballot didn’t have an opponent.

These seats range from county commissioner, mayor, school board, and village offices. But why are so many unopposed?

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said every election has uncontested candidates, however, he hasn’t seen this many before. He blames some of that on partial terms. There are nearly 50 of them.

“I think a lot of times when it is halfway through a term and somebody’s maybe been appointed to fill out part of the term, ends up flying under the radar,” said Swope.

He thinks the recent county commission district changes over the past year could also play some part. Swope said people are more familiar with house and senate districts.

Related: Lansing voters: You may be in a new district, new polling location to follow

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum thinks those higher-up races are where parties put their focus. The parties have big races to worry about and the smaller more local ones tend to get lost in the mix.

“You know sometimes people opt not to run for a certain office sometimes,” said Byrum. “The parties are busy focusing on other concerns and they don’t recruit candidates.”

Something else, many offices are up for election in historically partisan areas like Hillsdale and Clinton counties, where most uncontested candidates are a Republican. That might be why people are less than enthusiastic to oppose them.

“No one wants to bother to go through the process of running when they are almost assured of losing,” said Swope.

However, just because a candidate is running unopposed doesn’t mean things can’t change. There are ways they can be challenged.

“Even if a candidate is uncontested that does not mean they can’t have a write-in candidacy against them,” said Byrum.

In the long run, having lots of unopposed candidates aren’t ideal for any election. People may lose and feelings might get hurt, but ultimately contested races are better for communities.

“I think it serves our democracy better to have most races contested,” said Swope.

Even if candidates are uncontested, election officials said voting is important.

More information on the upcoming elections can be found on the official Michigan Secretary of State website here.

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