GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD0 — One West Michigan lawmaker is so fed up with the long lines seen at some Grand Rapids polling locations during the presidential election on Tuesday that he is ready to propose an early voting system in Michigan.
Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) points to 32 states -- plus Washington, D.C. -- that allow early in-person voting. He thinks that could alleviate some of the long waits seen on Nov. 6.
At the Community Revival Center in southeast Grand Rapids, some voters waited more than three hours to cast their ballots.
And that precinct had a low turnout -- only 50.08% -- according to county records. Of the 1,831 registered voters, a total of 917 cast ballots. That was one of the lowest-percentage turnouts in the city of Grand Rapids.
On Tuesday, Grand Rapids City Clerk Lauri Parks said that voters were taking unusually long at that location, which she said was the cause of the long wait. It also didn't help that the ballot was especially long this time around.
But Dillon said there aren't any good explanations for such long waits.
"This is the most sophisticated democracy in the world. If we can't figure out a way to get people through a voting line in four hours, we've got something wrong," said Dillon.
The Community Revival Center serves an area within Dillon's 75th District.
"It was extremely long and frustrating for the people that were standing in line there," said Dillon.
He saw the lines 24 Hour News 8 showed live Tuesday at the Community Revival Center that looked more like a Sunday service than an election line.
"This current system is not working for thousands upon thousands of people in Grand Rapids and across the state. We need to find a way to fix it," said Dillon.
Dillon's solution is to allow in-person early voting in designated times before the election. He thinks it would cut down on those lines.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson supports an offshoot of early voting, which would allow absentee voting no matter the reason.
"I think it is incumbent on us to look at no-reason absentee," Johnson told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday night. "As long as we have the same standards that we do now for integrity when people show up to the polls, so that we can cut down on these lines, too."
But early voting might not be a quick fix. In Florida, which does have early voting, there were still five- or six-hour long lines at some polling locations.
Even though some on both sides of the aisle in Michigan support early voting, it's far from a done deal. That's because, generally speaking, Republicans are against early voting and they control the Michigan legislature.
Meanwhile, the City of Grand Rapids plans to hold a meeting to discuss the election in the next week or two. It has not yet been scheduled.
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Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.