With the 2008 Presidential Election quickly approaching, Eaton Rapids residents are gathering information about the candidates and preparing to vote in a decision that could result in a dramatic leadership change for the United States.
As the primary elections continue in individual states, the probability of having the first black president or the first female president is being discussed throughout the country, as well as in Eaton Rapids and the surrounding area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 data collection, Eaton Rapids has a population of 5,330. Of these residents, approximately 3,678, or 69 percent, were 18 or older and are eligible to vote in the upcoming election.
Since 2000, more people have become eligible to vote. “As of Jan. 3, 2008 there are 3,716 registered voters,” said Eaton Rapids City Hall Administrative Assistant Julie Kunkel, who is also responsible, along with the city clerk, for keeping track of registered voters.
Kunkel explained that of registered voters, there are 1,637 males and 2,082 females registered to vote in Eaton Rapids. Females over the age of 60 have the highest number of registered voters-483.
Eaton Rapids has three precincts in which residents live. Each one has a representative on City Council. While Council elections are based on where you live and occur where you live, state and national elections all occur in the same city building.
In Eaton Rapids, residents vote in the Public Safety Building. Because it is such a small city, only a few square miles in area, there is only one voting location. The building is located at 101 Line Street in the city’s downtown. On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. “It seems that our voting goes very smoothly here in Eaton Rapids. We have not heard too many complaints about the one location other than for some it can be slightly confusing,” said Assistant City Manager Brian Reed.
Residents of Eaton Rapids can register to vote at the city clerk’s office, any secretary of state location and military recruitment centers. They are also able to mail a Michigan Mail-In Voter Registration Application to City Clerk Kristy Reinecke. The mail-in voters do not mail in their ballot, however, because they are not registered as absentee voters. The people who participate in the mail-in registration still have to vote on Election Day at the Public Safety Building.
For those who are not able to make it to the polls on Election Day, absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are restricted to residents 60 years or older, those who are unable to vote without assistance, those in jail, those who will not be in the city for the duration of the election process and the like.
“We were happy with the voter turnout for the primary election in January, but in general would always like to see more participation in our system of government,” said Reed. He also added that it is important for the community to be aware of what is going on and so they can understand the day to day issues of not only their city, but their state and country. The message Eaton Rapids officials want to give to the community is that having participation from the public brings additional energy and ideas to government and benefits all.