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Low turnout for early voting in Ingham County pilot

Ron Bacon stands in front of a voting tabulator to submit his ballot at the early voting center.
Arjun Thakkar
East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon feeds his ballot into the voting tabulator at the early voting center.

Voter turnout was low for local elections in Ingham County this week.

The County Clerk is reporting about 18% of registered voters went to the polls. Around 16% of Lansing voters filled out a ballot, while about 24% of East Lansing's voters weighed in on local races and ballot proposals.

More information on the candidates and proposals that won on Election Day can be found on WKAR's mid-Michigan election results page.

Both cities piloted early voting centers in the days leading up to the election. It's the first time municipalities in Michigan opened the polls early after the process was approved through a proposal last year.

202 early ballots came from Lansing and East Lansing, making up about one percent of the total vote tally.

Election officials said the results are not surprising.

“Turnout for odd election years typically is down, so certainly turnout for the early vote would be down, especially since it's an odd year election," said Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum. "And this was a pilot."

Voters cast more than 25% of their ballots in-person on Election Day. Nearly 75% of the vote came from absentee ballots.

Michigan is set to offer nine days of early voting in multiple elections next year—including the 2024 August primaries as well as the big-ticket presidential election next November.

“It's going to be interesting to watch to see what option the voters choose, whether or not they're going to choose to vote early or choose to vote absentee or go in on Election Day," Byrum said. "It's going to depend upon what's on the ballot and how those voters are feeling at the time.”

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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