Summary of Accomplishments
Prior to 2006, the administration of elections in Detroit was plagued with major problems. In November 2005, the Wayne County Circuit Court placed the absentee voting process under the receivership of Wayne County Elections due to alleged voter fraud; Election Day result reporting typically took two days to obtain all precinct returns; memory cards which contained Election Day results often went home with the pollworker and delivered the following day; and voter registration rolls were weighed down by voters who no longer lived in Detroit. As a consequence, the public lost faith in the process, which adversely affected turnout.
Upon the election of Janice M. Winfrey as Detroit City Clerk and Chief Election Official, numerous man hours were spent understanding the dynamics of elections and how it impacts the morale of a community. Ultimately, through meticulous administrative prowess all issues that plagued the Detroit voting process were immediately addressed and eventually eliminated.
As a consequence, the Detroit Department of Elections (DOE) went from one of the worst Election Day performers to one of its best. The Department constantly strives to improve Election Day performance for each election year.
The following are some of the accomplishments that have been achieved since 2006:
- Cleaned up and stabilized Detroit’s voter file. In 2005, Detroit’s voter registration file contained more than 636,000 registered voters. Presently there are 541,000 registered voters and approximately 50,000 are scheduled to be purged after the 2014 November Gubernatorial Election (NVRA). Recognizing our efforts, in 2006, the Secretary of State presented Clerk Winfrey with $128,000 (postage refund) for our efforts in cleaning up the voter registration file.
- Implemented two (2) new voting systems – Election Systems and Software’s M100 and Automark.
- Enhanced City/State relations. The DOE meets with the State Bureau of Elections at the top of each year to discuss goals and initiatives for the coming election cycle.
- Partnered with Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) to professionally train pollworkers with instructors and professors. Pollworkers receive college credit for their training.
- Restructured Pollworker Training to include customer service and three segment training (opening the polls; processing voters and closing). Also, pollworkers are required to be in uniform – black bottoms and white tops. These elements have improved voter engagement and confidence in the francise at the precinct on Election Day.
- Election Day result reporting has become a centralized operation. Prior to 2006, memory pack, which contained results, were delivered to “Check In Stations” where results were transmitted to the Department. Beginning in August 2006, all memory cards, including absentee voter memory cards, are delivered to the Department of Elections for result reporting. This change allows the Department to monitor results closely to ensure that all precincts have delivered their memory cards. Consequently, the Department has produced 100% election results on the same day.
- Implemented receiving boards as a last point of verification. All ballots, Pollbook envelopes and statement of votes. Receiving boards ensure the recountability of election precincts by verifying all forms and documents are properly completed.
- Engages each voter three (3) times prior to each Election. The Department of Elections promotes democracy by notifying electors through including a notice of election in each household’s water bill; provides a list of polling locations and their corresponding precincts and mails to each registered voter’s household an “Election Connection Newsletter.”
- Opened the democratic process and give candidates, electors, media and interest groups equal access to participate in democracy.
- Reduced polling precincts from 689 to 489 without disenfranchising voters or causing undue waiting at precincts (2007-2012)
- For the first time in Detroit’s history, during the 2012 Presidential Election, satellite absentee voting took place seven days a week. This phenomena created a synergy that was realized through voter turnout. The DOE had three (3) locations that electors could vote by absentee ballot. The office of the DOE was the central location and WCCCD’s Eastern and Northwestern campuses were the two satellites. As a result, more than 30,000 electors voted in person by absentee ballot (More than 80,000 (record number electors voted by absentee ballot). As a result of the endeavor legislation has been adopted to allow for electors to vote by “no reason in person” absentee ballot.”
As the DOE moves forward, we endeavor to continue on the road to reforming democracy in Detroit. As Detroit transforms to a smaller community with reduced financial resources it is our goal to consolidate elections whereby Municipal Elections, typically administered on odd years, will be placed on the Gubernatorial Election cycle. This will create two winning points for our City, 1) By moving the Municipal Election the City will save more than $4 million dollars and 2) Voter turnout for Gubernatorial Elections will increase from 42% to upwards of 50%.
It is my vision to harness the skill set that has been obtained as an election administrator and use it to be part of the team that will analyze elections nationally for a unified improvement. Realizing that once voter apathy is eradicated democracy can once again reign as the foundation of this republic.
Most Recent Accomplishments
- Conducted City wide Mock Elections at all Detroit Public High Schools
- Acquired new voting equipment
- Working with Legislators to amend State election laws
- Expand partnership with WCCCD to increase poll worker training
- Provided more job opportunities for Detroiters