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Posted on Wed, May 5, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

University asks city of Ann Arbor to move polling locations out of dorms due to safety concerns

By Ryan J. Stanton

A number of Ann Arbor voters will cast their ballots at new polling locations in the city's Aug. 3 primary election when they decide contests for mayor and City Council, as well as several races at the county and state level.

The most notable changes will be felt by those accustomed to voting in dormitories on the University of Michigan campus. The university is asking the city to permanently relocate all polling places in the dorms to other areas on U-M's campus.


Here's a map of the city's ward boundaries. Click here to view more detailed precinct and polling place maps.

U-M's request was made following last November's general election, and an agreement was finalized this week.

U-M's Office of Government Affairs said the dorms no longer will be available for use as city polling locations due to increased concerns on campus regarding student safety. More simply put, the university doesn't want non-students and people with no affiliation to the university in the dorms.

"The university is pleased to continue offering polling places on campus, supporting the interests of voting students and nearby neighbors," said Jim Kosteva, a U-M spokesman. "We are also maintaining our commitment to student safety by limiting access to dormitories only to student residents and other authorized personnel. It simply was inconsistent with our security objectives to allow non-authorized, non-university personnel into dormitories on election days."

Officials said no particular incidents led to the decision to ask the city to pull polling stations out of the dorms.

In working with the city clerk's office, Kosteva said the university found it can adequately accommodate the city's needs in campus buildings like the Michigan Union, Michigan League, Palmer Commons and Pierpont Commons, which he argued are "far more public" in their access and hours of operation.

Here are the polling location changes: 

  • 1st Ward, 7th Precinct — moved from Bursley Hall to Pierpont Commons, 2101 Bonisteel Blvd.
  • 2nd Ward, 2nd Precinct — moved from Mary Markley Hall to Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Ave.
  • 3rd Ward, 1st & 2nd Precincts — moved from East Quad to Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave.
  • 4th Ward, 1st Precinct — moved from South Quad to Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.

City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry said the city and the university were in mutual agreement that it was in the best interest of the predominately student voters in those precincts to have the polling locations remain on campus. She doesn't think it will impact voter turnout.

2010 Elections Quick Links

The Aug. 3 primary is getting closer. Here are several links that may help you prepare for election day.

"It's a big change. It's a lot in one year to move this many precincts, but I understand," Beaudry said. "The university obviously is looking out for their students and they have a concern for security and non-students entering the dorms. I think moving to another building on campus is an acceptable alternative."

Beaudry said members from the Michigan Student Assembly's Voice Your Vote committee agreed the polling locations should remain on campus so student voters aren't disenfranchised. The student union buildings were chosen for their accessibility, prominence on campus, high visibility and the fact that they are open to the public during the entire time period elections would be held in the buildings.

Signage will be posted at the former dorm locations for all 2010 elections to direct any voters who may still arrive at their former location. New permanent voter identification cards will be issued to all affected voters.

Beaudry said due to the highly transient nature of the population in the affected precincts, there are few long-term registered voters. Many move annually from one precinct to another on and around campus, so a polling place change may be less disruptive in this area than in other areas of the city, she said.

The city also recently decided to permanently relocate the polling location for 1st Ward Precinct 8 from Ann Arbor Open at Mack, 920 Miller Ave., to Skyline High School, 2552 N. Maple Road for all future city elections.

Beaudry said Skyline High is a more geographically appropriate location for voters in that precinct and is accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, she said the current location has proven confusing to voters in 5th Ward Precinct 3, who vote at the Second Baptist Church located directly behind Open at Mack.

School officials agreed the use of the larger high school building is preferable to the elementary school building.

Polling places will be open on Aug. 3 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


The Picker

Wed, May 5, 2010 : 4:43 p.m.

What me worry!

Jake C

Wed, May 5, 2010 : 4:19 p.m.

Uh, actually a number of computers on the U of M campus, specifically those at the main libraries, allow a Guest login without a University username & password. Honestly, this whole issue could simply have been phrased as "Dorms are not the most appropriate places to have polling locations, and buildings such as the Michigan Union, Michigan League, and Pierpont/Palmer Commons which are already public buildings are more appropriate both from a convenience and a security standpoint."

David Briegel

Wed, May 5, 2010 : 4 p.m.

The polling period should be extended to more than one day and mail in voting should be encouraged. It should be simple and easy! I agree with the security concerns and liabilities for dorms and schools. The Library, fire halls and similar facilities can be used if polling is done over a longer period. One whole week?


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

The University of Michigan IS a public university, but a university, none the less. In order to utilize the space, you need to be a student, a member of faculty or part of the staff. Most buildings allow visitors, but to use the equipment, such as computers, AV or exercise machines, you must be an affiliate. I suppose the public could lobby for total access, but you might be surprised at the increase in the tax bill. This article, however, is related to residence halls. Would any of you like your apartment buildings to be open to whomever lives in the district?


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

Amen KMG. "You cannot come to our events, use our computers or libraries, or walk on your sidewalk which we need to build overtop of. But jee, thanks for all your money and for the roads that get people to our stadium to spend money!"


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

Vote absentee, everyone should do it, saves the government $$, no lines, no waiting, no getting the flu from the guy behind you, no searching for moved polling places. Get the form here: Think it's illegal? it's not. The first statement is: "I expect to be absent from the community in which I am registered for the entire time the polls are open on election day." You have no way of knowing for sure a month in advance that some type of emergency might take you out of town. Better to vote at your leisure than miss it altogether because you forget, or you have to work late, or have no one to watch the kids.

Val Losse

Wed, May 5, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

Why are people critizing the UoM for securing the student population when they are secure in their homes? When something happens to a student who gets sued for not providing a secure invironment? It is the University. For political reason I believe none of the polling places should be located in University buildings or even Ann Arbor's schools. The polling place should be as neutral as possible and not be influenced by surroundings.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

@Edward V. - I get it. I just brings to like the inherent problem with comments & blogs, as there is not a sarcasm button. It is probably my general disgust with everything based on "because of security reasons we are... ". I too have a bag to swipe to enter my building, but do I feel more secure - hardly. Somebody with determined intent just need walk in the front door. It may stem from being born a "buckeye" and attending the "other" major university in Washtenaw County :) - sarcasm returns!


Wed, May 5, 2010 : noon

Nothing like keeping the "public" out of a public building. Last I heard UM was a Public University. Pesky taxpayers invading our space. Gota love the UM.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

@48104: My thought exactly! It's a smart move, since now the security for the building is breached by the allowing so many outsiders within.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

What about "My polling place didn't change, but I think this is a sensible move" as an option?