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August 08, 2005 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-08-08

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 8, 2005
Low voter turnout in primary disappoints

Weak poll attendance
and an absence
of student voters
concerns candidates
and constituents
By Laura Van Hyfte
Daily News Editor
The Ann Arbor City Council pri-
mary showed low voter turnout last
Tuesday as 7.35 percent of registered
voters cast their ballots in the Sec-
ond Ward, and only 4.22 percent in
the Fourth Ward.
Former Republicans Stephen
Rapundalo and Marcia Higgins won
in the Second and Fourth Ward pri-
maries by close margins. In the Sec-
ond Ward, Rapundalo, a research
scientist for Pfizer Inc., beat his
University student opponent, Eugene
Kang, 575 votes to 480. Marcia Hig-
gins, the incumbent running for her
fourth term, won in the Fourth Ward
over City Commissioner, Eric Lipson,

319 votes to 250.
Rapundalo said that he was sur-
prised by the poor poll attendance on
election day.
"I was struck by the low turnout in
some areas like (Ward) 2 (Precinct) 3
and (Ward) 2 (Precinct) 4, along with
no turnout at Markley Hall whatso-
ever," Rapundalo said.
Lipson shared Rapundalo's dissatis-
faction of low numbers at the polls.
"I was disappointed in the weak
turnout as much as anything else.
569 voters out of 17,000 registered
are not encouraging. I knew Marcia
(Higgins) had an advantage as an
incumbent. I thought I could over-
come it," Lipson said.
LSA-SG President Andrew Yah-
kind, who lives in Ward 3, said that
based on City Council's actions over
the past two years, it is vital for stu-
dents to have representation.
Yahkind said that City Council
is "oblivious to the reality that sur-
rounds them" and that eventually
students should have some represen-
tation on City Council.

Yahkind said that the gerrymandering in the two precincts in the ward, and
of students, who comprise one third of I know we would have been able to
the population in Ann Arbor, is a way of organize them and show them why it
ensuring that students "don't have a rep- was important to vote," Kang said.
resentative on City Alex Donn,
Council." He added "There are 10 seats Kang's campaign
that the creation of manager, said votes
one or two city wards on the Ann Arbor lost in the Second
composed of students Ward due to stu-
would help get peo- City Council. An dents leaving for
ple like Kang - who the summer could
could represent stu- undergraduate have changed the
dents' interests cohe- should have election.
sively - elected. "If even a frac-
Yahkind said one of them." tion of Ward 2's
if students were student population
also in town while had found a way to
primary elections - Alex Donn remain in the Ward
were taking place Kang's campaign after the dorms
they may be able to manager were closed for the
get representation summer, Eugene
in the city. would have won
He added it was impressive that this race," Donn said. "We won more
Kang could perform as well as he precincts than our opponent did and
did despite the fact that most stu- earned over 45 percent of the vote at
dents were not in Ann Arbor. (a) time when almost every student in
In Precinct 2, of Ann Arbor's Sec- the Ward was out of town."
ond Ward, there were zero votes cast "There are 10 seats on the Ann Arbor
for the primary. City Council. An undergraduate should
Kang said he believed if more stu- have one of them," Donn added.
dents had been in town there would Lipson echoed Donn and Kang's
have been a different result in poll sentiments, stating that Kang's election
numbers. may have had a different outcome if
"There are almost 4000 students students actually had been in town.

Lipson won the single vote cast in
Precinct 1 of the Fourth Ward.
This was the only dorm precinct
in Ward 4.
Lipson said that students presence
during the primary probably would
have helped Kang most.
Lipson added, "If students want
to become a force in the community
they have to organize themselves and
have to become registered to vote."
Kang said that not focusing on absentee
ballots also contributed to his loss.
"Around 400 absentee ballots were
cast - we were able to reach only
about 50 of them, but Mr. Rapundalo
reached all of them through a targeted
mailing," Kang added. .4
Kang said that despite losing the pri-
mary he believes a moral victory was
accomplished. He said through his
defeat, young people in Ann Arbor who
hope to make a difference will now be
considered legitimate.
Michigan Student Assembly Presi-
dent Jesse Levine said Kang ran a good
race and he respects the work that went
into his campaign.
He added that it is frustrating to
have a primary in the summer, which
interferes with student participation.
"I'd like to see someone check into
the legality of changing the primary
date," Levine said.


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