GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan voters went to the polls Tuesday, deciding on local issues, electing state lawmakers and showing support for the candidate they want to be their party’s presidential nominee.
THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire Donald Trump won the presidential primary contests in Michigan.
The primary was different this year in that both Republicans and Democrats had one; Democrats have held caucuses in previous years.
In a narrow win, Sanders took 50 percent of the vote while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished with 48 percent.
For the Republicans, Trump led with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 25 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich was close behind with 24 percent of the vote and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finished fourth in Michigan with nine percent.
None of the Republican candidates were in Michigan as results came in, but all four visited the state in the week preceding the vote. Kasich was here nearly nonstop, and it paid off — nearly tied for second place with Cruz.
“I think the more contact these folks have with voters, the more connected the voters feel to whoever their preferred candidate is and the more invested voters get. Polls are polls. Media is media. Human to human is something special,” Kent GOP Chairman John Inhulsen said.
Sanders also stumped all over the state and that may have contributed to his upset of Clinton, who polls showed had a strong lead in the weeks before the election.
Grand Rapids voters elected Democrat David LaGrand to the state legislature to fill the 75th House District seat vacated when Brandon Dillon stepped down last year to chair the Michigan Democratic Party.
In Allegan County, Republican Mary Whiteford was elected to the 80th House District seat that was left empty when Cindy Gamrat was kicked out last year. Whiteford lost to Gamrat in the Republican primary when Gamrat was first elected, but beat her in the special election primary in November.
LaGrand and Whiteford will fill the remainder of Dillon’s and Gamrat’s terms, which expire at the end of the year.
In Ottawa County, voters approved a first-of-its kind millage that would pay for the county’s mental health agency. The .3 mill proposal will bring in about $3.2 million each year for the next decade.
NOT ENOUGH BALLOTS
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday. For the most part, everything seemed to go smoothly, but there were problems when a couple of precincts in Kent County ran out of ballots.
That was blamed on higher-than-average voter turnout. State officials said as many as 2 million people statewide were expected to cast votes in the primary.
“I’m expecting news that Michigan’s had a record turnout on both sides of the aisle — Democrat and Republican. Which is a great thing for all of us, the citizens. I’m also expecting some interesting results,” Inhulsen, the Kent GOP chair, said.
In Grand Rapids, the city clerk said they printed enough ballots for a 60 percent turnout; normally they print enough for only 40 percent.
She also said her original estimate of a 25 to 28 percent turnout looked like it would be exceeded. In Kalamazoo, the clerk’s office says there was a steady stream of voters, but not overwhelmingly so. They believe a 20 to 25 percent turnout would be a good number. The clerk’s office in Ottawa County told 24 Hour News 8 expected higher than a 20 percent turnout. The average is 15 percent.