Detroit Election: Numbers that Don't Add Up

By now, anyone who cares at all about Detroit's mayoral primary knows that Mike Duggan pulled off the improbable and stomped all the competition, even though he ran as a write-in candidate. Given the obstacle he had to overcome, the fact that Duggan easily beat  second-place finisher Benny Napoleon would seem to bode badly for the Wayne County sheriff come the November general election, when the two will square off against each other.

But  a lot can happen between now and then, so let’s not go calling it over just yet.

As for the turnout, only about 18 percent of  Detroit’s 538,000 registered voters made it to the polls. But we find that later number to be unbelievably high. After all,  current estimates put Detroit’s population at about 700,000. And, according to the most recent figures, slightly more than 26 percent of them are under 18. So that put’s Detroit’s voting-age population at a little under 519,000.

So, in reality,  there are more registered voters than there are people eligible to vote. Making the number of registered voters  even more far-fetched is a fact highlighted in a recent story in the online Bridge Magazine by Nancy Derringer.

In essence, the article  makes the case that many Detroit voters effectively disenfranchise themselves because they claim residence outside of the city to avoid  the terribly high cost Detroiters pay for auto  insurance.

To get an explanation of the situation, Derringer talked with Detroiter Vince Keenan, a do-gooder sort of guy who founded, a voter-education Web site. Keenan told Derringer that his annual auto insurance premium jumped from  $1,700 to $3,700 after he moved to the city from Ferndale in 2002.

That  happened because Keenan was honest  with his insurance company. But a  lot of  people, in an attempt to keep their costs down, aren’t. And that has an unfortunate side effect when it  comes time to vote.

“It’s an unintended consequence of Motor Voter,” said Keenan, referring to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which tied voter registration to one’s driver’s license. “It was very successful at getting people registered, especially in Michigan, because we drive so much. But by marrying the two, we have to think about (the auto-insurance issue), and we shouldn’t have to. For a voter to have to worry about where their car insurance is, is stupid. We’ve made it easier to commit community fraud, where you’re living and working in a community that you’re not voting in, than to commit insurance fraud.”

“We need voters in Detroit who are active and engaged about it,” he added. “Where you choose to vote should not be governed by your car insurance, period.”

You can read the entire Bridge Magazine article here.

— Curt Guyette

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