Map: Who Voted in Detroit? Primary 2022

August is Civic Health Month among many other awareness campaigns like National Breastfeeding Month. Over the last decade, there has been increased recognition that voting and civic engagement are connected to population health and health disparities. Low voter turnout has been well researched and shows that people who have lower self-rated health, certain chronic diseases, poor mental health, or who live with disabilities all experience greater barriers to ballot access. Voter turnout is similarly varied by race, income, and education level.

The data nerds and political pundits have all been throwing the numbers back and forth, cutting up districts, cities, and precincts to get to the bottom of how the 2022 primaries shook out. In Detroit, the topic has been the voting patterns of the Congressional 13th where Shri Thanedar took the win. Turnout has always been relatively lower than low in Detroit – and for all the already well researched reasons. Other local politicians even benefit from a lackluster clerk and absence of any meaningful civic outreach that result in low turnout.

Detroit can easily be seen as a sea of low turnout under 10.3% with bright spots that had over 29.9% turnout in Grandmont-Rosedale, Palmer Woods, University District, Indian Village, and Lafayette Park – all areas of high income, high education attainment, and low rates of chronic diseases. Precinct 308 in Grandmont-Rosedale had the highest turnout at 53.3% followed by Precinct 203 in Palmer Woods with 50.8%.

The Detroit City Clerk, Janice Winfrey, lost her own primary against Rashida Tlaib and her office has some different numbers than the Wayne County Clerk. I’m not sure yet how to account for the anomaly.

Eligible VotersBallots/VotersTurnout
Detroit Clerk504,21577,74915.42%
Wayne County Clerk504,40178,02215.46%
Difference-186-273-0.04%

The overall turnout doesn’t change that significantly, but the discrepancy of some 200 voters and 300 ballots is quite odd. The map is based on unofficial precinct level data (election day voting and absentee votes) from the Wayne County Clerk.

UPDATE 08/07/22:

Corrected map for 2022 election precincts.

The original map posted on 08/05/22 had a number of blank areas labeled “no data,” but the issue was actual an incorrect precinct shapefile. I had used the 2020 precincts and assumed not much had changed in 2022. Since 2020, 52 precincts were merged with nearby precincts. Precincts 17, 28, 37, 48, 54, 57, 67, 76, 87, 96, 99, 104, 106, 108, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 141, 142, 149, 152, 154, 163, 170, 179, 181, 187, 196, 206, 235, 237, 270, 322, 388, 391, 412, 451, 454, 455, 456, 459, 465, 467, 469, 476, 478, 487, 492, 494, and 499 were all removed in 2022. Big thanks to Will Ferguson for remapping the precinct changes that, as far as I can tell, were only shared out as an unuseable PDF map (04/05/22 2:10PM). Give the people machine-readable, open data!

I was very wrong, yet this is not an uncommon problem in Detroit where voters often learn of precinct changes the day they go to vote or never. Precinct changes must be approved by the Detroit Election Commission which looks like it meets extremely irregularly (but a planned meeting tomorrow 08/08/22). The 2022 precincts map was made in April 2022 and from the file name it seems it was approved in July 2022. Michigan election law states:

Precinct boundary changes must be approved no later than 210 days prior to the August primary in an even numbered year; however, in the second year following the federal census precinct boundary
changes must be approved no longer than 120 days following the August primary. (MCL 168.661(3))

I can’t interpret if that means the Detroit Election Commission, who last met in August 2021, is severely behind schedule and failed to approved precinct changes properly, or if they have 117 more days to approve the updated precincts. I at least hope they properly mailed updated voter registration cards to everyone.

Now to the topic of “open data,” it appears that the Clerk and Office of Elections doesn’t care to make the data more readily available because they have a pricing menu for various maps and data available. How can our own voting data cost money to access?

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