Flint, MI— Flint residents have already mailed in 18,000 absentee ballots as of Oct. 30 and poll workers report that Election Day turnout is up, officials said. 

“We are hearing that voter turnout is high,” Leslie Raleigh, Genesee County chief deputy clerk, said.

During the sunny afternoon, polls were busy but moving along quickly. 

“This looks like one of the best administered elections since I took office eight years ago,” said Genesee County Clerk/Register John Gleason. 

He predicts that voter turnout will surpass 2016 “for certain.”

In 2016, 59.86% of Flint residents showed up to vote last election. 

Eighteen-year-old Jessena Neely voted for the first time at Mott Community College. 

“[Voting] was kind of confusing that you had to pick a lot of people and stuff, but it was good,” Neely said. 

She waited to vote in person because she attends MCC, she said. “I got to support my school.” 

Flint also took part in a national, non-partisan movement called #JoyToThePolls. The Election Defenders started the movement, which aims to bring “music and artistry” to entertain voters while they wait in line. 

Local artist Erik McIntyre spent the day playing his guitar at polling locations around Flint. 

“It’s nice to just be out here playing music and seeing people dancing and enjoying it. We’re trying to spread some positive energy,” McIntyre said. 

That was the case at St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, where campaigners danced together in the parking lot. Flint DJ Jeff Ursery, also known as DJ Jayare, blasted music from a speaker. 

“I am seeing a lot more young folks getting out and voting and they are deciding that they want some type of reform to take place,” Lessie Lee said, a Flint resident who campaigned at the polls during the primary. 

Tyonna McIntyre, also a Flint resident, said she hopes to see true progress as a result of this election. 

“I’ve seen a lot of change, some of it more towards the negative. We can’t get our ward councilor to show up…or even talk to the residents,” she said. “You can always see them on television talking about uniting and bringing the residents together and bringing the city together. But we can never see [them] fulfill what [they’re] saying. I would like to see the City of Flint get back to where it used to be.” 

Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver was traveling between different polling locations to deliver snacks and water to voters. 

“I just want to encourage people to get out and vote. There have been some polling sites where I have seen some lines and that’s a good thing. That’s what we want.” Weaver said. 

Municipalities in Genesee County have seen 85% return on absentee ballots, a record-breaking number, Gleason said. 

More people are voting absentee due to Proposal 3, which was passed in Nov. 2018, City Clerk Inez Brown said. Proposal 3 added eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution including same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.

The City has already begun counting absentee ballots, but final numbers will not be available until later this evening or early tomorrow morning, Brown said.  

There is still time to register to vote for those who haven’t. Flint residents can visit the City Clerk’s Office located inside City Hall to register and cast their vote before 8 p.m. Nov. 3. 

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Carmen Nesbitt

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...