Detroit voter turnout estimated around 30%, large drop from 2018

Posted at 11:12 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-05 03:55:10-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Despite a contentious ballot proposal and no-reason absentee voting, election officials in the city of Detroit are anticipating turnout to be roughly 10% lower than the last gubernatorial election in 2018.

That election had a record number of votes statewide for a gubernatorial race, and 93% of votes cast in Detroit went to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"Detroit should be somewhere between 28% and 33% ," Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said to reporters on Thursday. "Not where we want it, but that’s where it’s looking like now.”

Some Detroit voters say they are choosing not to vote.

"I don't believe the system is set up for our people, the minority," Detroit resident Raven Archer said. "So, I don’t vote. I’ve never voted.”

Archer says she knows many people who feel the same way as her, and believes not voting sends a stronger message.

"I've never voted. I just don't believe it’s for us," Archer reiterated. "Not voting is making a stand and stating how we feel.”

Other Detroit voters have already cast a ballot, and about 83,000 absentee ballots have been mailed out so far.

"It's important, the issues are important, there's a lot of things that are important," said Detroit voter Darryl Cobb.

"I vote every election, I think it's our civic responsibility to do it," said Detroit voter James Beasley. "So many people have given their lives."

The 28% to 33% projected by Winfrey is down roughly 10% since last gubernatorial election which had a 41% turnout. That election saw a record number of ballots cast statewide and was just the third gubernatorial election since 1970 with a statewide turnout of 50% or higher.

Previous Gubernatorial elections in 2010 and 2014 also had about a 30% turnout in the City of Detroit.

"That's unfortunate if that's the number, but we haven't voted yet," Beasley said of the 30% projection. "I encourage everyone to get out to the polls because it makes a difference. This is the only time we can really express ourselves and by expressing ourselves we let people know how we feel."

"It's really sad that we hear of people not going to vote, that the numbers are going to be lower," said Michael Joseph, president of the Detroit Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. "We believe in the power of the people, but we need people to believe in the power of themselves.”

The Detroit Coalition of Black Trade Unionists is working with Rev. Dr. Steve Bland and Liberty Temple Baptist Church on the west side to drive Detroiters who need a ride to voting locations to register, get an absentee ballot or turn in an absentee ballot this weekend.

To request a ride, you can call the Detroit CBTU at 517-293-4730 or email Pickups begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

“We have enough vans to get people to the polls, just give us a call," Joseph said. "We’ll come to your house, pick you up and take you right back to you house when you finish your business.”

But according to some potential voters, bigger than the transportation barrier is the barrier of trust and a belief their vote doesn’t count. It's a barrier Detroiters like Joseph are still working to overcome.

"If Detroit had an 80%, 70% turnout in the election, the power of the state would go through Detroit. That’s how powerful it is," Joseph said. "Detroit matters. It matters.”

If you haven't submitted your absentee ballot and plan to, make sure you head to your nearest dropbox by 8 p.m. on Election Day.