Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Report Ranks Michigan’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access
Press Release

RELEASE: New Report Ranks Michigan’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access

New County-by-County Analysis of Michigan’s Election Administration in the 2012 Election

Washington, D.C. – The Michigan counties with the worst voting access are Gratiot, Ionia, and Houghton, according to a new report released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The report identifies Michigan’s best and worst performers for voting access and voter experience by looking at six factors that reflect voters’ ability to participate in the democratic process: voter turnout, overall voter registration rate, rate of registered voters purged from voting rolls, provisional ballots cast, provisional ballots rejected, and absentee ballots rejected.

In addition to examining Michigan’s worst election offenders, the report offers county-by-county analysis of 16 other swing states—states with the smallest margin of victory between the two presidential candidates in 2012: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The report finds that with election administration delegated to officials and boards in more than 3,000 counties and localities in the United States, the ease with which one exercises his or her right to vote can depend on where he or she lives. This pattern played out in every state that was analyzed.
swing MI
Key findings from the report include:

  • Out of the 50 Michigan counties that we analyzed, Gratiot County stands out in Michigan for faring poorly on five different factors. It had the highest rate of provisional ballots cast in the state—three and a half times higher than the state average. The county also had the second-worst voter turnout rate, the third-worst voter registration rate, and the sixth-worst rate of absentee ballots rejected. These poor results raise questions as to why the county fared so much worse than the state average across so many factors.
  • Ionia County follows closely behind Gratiot County for its poor election performance results. Ionia had the second-highest rate of provisional ballots cast in the state and was eighth worst on provisional ballots rejected. Additionally, Ionia had poor voter participation rates. It was sixth worst in voter registration and eighth worst in voter turnout.
  • Finally, Houghton County fared poorly on five factors. It had the 2nd-highest rate of absentee ballots rejected, the 12th-worst rate of voters removed from the voter rolls, and the 14th-worst rate of provisional ballots cast. Voter participation was also poor in Houghton County. It had the 5th-worst voter registration rate and the 11th-worst voter turnout rate.

The report’s findings provide insights that can help officials, policymakers, and advocates better understand voting administration practices that work. By comparing voter access and experience across Michigan’s counties, officials can determine the best practices for ensuring that citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

Read the report: Unequal Access: A County-by-County Analysis of Election Administration in Swing States in the 2012 Election by Anna Chu, Joshua Field, and Charles Posner

To speak with experts on this issue, please contact Madeline Meth at [email protected] or 202.741.6277.