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Analysis of Voter Turnout in South Oakland County, 2015

BoysGirls_trait_01Analysis of Voter Turnout in South Oakland County, 2015

(Guest View: Kurt Metzger, Mayor of Pleasant Ridge, Nov. 5, 2015)Sahara ad with wine

Now that the results are final and the celebrations are over, it is time to reflect on Tuesday’s election results across communities in southeast Oakland County. As one would expect in an off-year election, the turnout was generally quite low – even in a couple communities where there were actual contests or ballot proposals.

Figure 1 shows the turnout rate for 10 communities. [Allow me to make an editorial comment here about turnout rates. They are the result of calculating the share of registered voters who showed up at the polls to vote. We know, however, that Michigan regulations regarding the cleaning of voter rolls, a critical one being “if a voter does not vote for 6 consecutive years,” lead to inflated rosters. I say this just to let you know that reported turnout rates are always lower than a clean voter list would produce.]


Huntington Woods, the perennial leader in POWELLad_01Oakland County (Orchard Lake sometimes wins), more than doubled their nearest competitor. One would expect this merely based on the number of campaign signs that dotted their landscape – covering the first contested mayoral race in 35 years, as well as two separate council races (one for two full term seats and one for filling a partial term seat). Pledge_side_bluePleasant Ridge came in a distant second. While two commissioners were running unopposed, residents came to the polls to support the Ferndale Schools millage request. In fact, 100 Pleasant Ridge voters skipped the candidates and just voted for the millage. The final approval rate of 86 percent brought in both precincts at rates higher “yes” rates than any other precincts in the school district.

The school district vote was also on the ballot in Ferndale, Royal Oak Township and 2 precincts in Oak Park. Only 80 residents came to the polls in Royal Oak township and showed no preference for the millage – 40 “yes” and 40 “no.” While Ferndale added a contested council race, their overall turnout was a disappointingly low 14.5 percent. Of more concern is the wide blumz06variation in turnout rates across precincts. While Precinct 1 in northwest Ferndale turned out at 23.4 percent, Precinct 6 on the far northeast side produced an 8.2 percent turnout. I would think that city officials would want to look into what is making far eastside residents less engaged.

Hotly contested mayoral elections in Oak Park and Southfield could only stir about one-fifth of their voters to make their preference known. Berkley’s mayor was running unopposed, while four persons were competing for three council positions. But it was the amendment to change the city’s logo – pushed by the former city manager, the mayor and other city officials – that turned out the voters – only 16.7 percent strong. By the way…the ctechadcurrent Logo STAYS!

Once again, in spite of a spirited council election, Hazel Park was unable to reach a 10 percent turnout, while Royal Oak’s council contest and 5 charter amendments brought only 14 percent of its voters to the poll. It took only 1 in 7 of Madison Heights voters (1 in 10 if you just count the votes for the winner) to produce an unseating of the mayor who has served for 16 years.

The 2015 elections are in the record books and the anticipation of 2016 is starting to build (or are we already sick and tired of the candidates?). It will be the biggie folks – President, Congressional races, Legislative races, a vote to fund the Regional transit Authority, and other proposals yet to be formulated for signatures. The hope is that American voters will surpass a 711 ad pizza60 percent turnout. Let us hope that the numbers are much larger, and let us work locally to do our part to show we care.

Read Election Results at

Check out the oc115 compilation of “I voted” sticker and poll worker pictures at

Kurt Metzger is the Mayor of Pleasant Ridge and the founder of Data Driven Detroit. Metzger has provided insights into voter turnout for several elections. Check out previous stories at:


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