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Primary election turnout at numbers not seen in decades

hand holding I VOTED sticker
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

Michiganders flocked to the polls Tuesday in numbers that haven’t been matched in recent decades.

Election officials say it might be the highest primary election turnout since the 1980s. There were several contested primaries – including for governor and state House and Senate.

“That drew a lot of interest and that was wonderful to see. Looking like we’ll surpass 2 million votes,” said Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams.

Woodhams said the numbers aren’t official yet. That won't happen until the counties and Board of State Canvassers certify their elections.

So many people voted in Tuesday’s primary election, some polling places ran out of ballots, which could signal an even greater turnout in November’s general election.  

“We hope that continues for November where we see high turnout and high interest from voters and have spirited races,” he said. “So we look forward to that, and we’ll certainly be working with county and local clerks to ensure that they’re prepared for a very busy November.”

Woodhams said the rules for precincts are different in general elections, so running out of ballots shouldn’t be an issue in November. And Woodhams said Michigan saw very high turnout for the presidential election in 2016 – so they’re prepared.

“You know we hope to see that again in 2018, but the reality is a gubernatorial cycle just doesn’t quite generate as much interest as the presidential cycle,” he said. “But we’ll certainly be prepared and ensure that local clerks are prepared as well.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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