Updated: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of Tuesday’s City Council Elections

Here's a roundup of ELi's election coverage leading up to the polls opening on Nov. 7 and updated information on how to spoil an absentee voter ballot.

Updated: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of Tuesday’s City Council Elections
Polling sites will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, throughout the City of East Lansing. Not sure where you polling site is? The Michigan Secretary of State has the information. You can also view a sample ballot at the website. (ELi file photo)

By Lucas Day

Election day is finally on the doorstep as voters will head to the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 7) to elect three members to serve on the East Lansing City Council and decide three ballot initiatives. 

For months, ELi has been tracking the developments leading up to the election. We have published stories as the eight candidates announced their campaigns, broken down the three ballot initiatives voters will decide on and published much, much more to help East Lansing residents prepare to vote. 

Below is a summary of our election coverage through the 2023 cycle, with links to the full stories for the most up-to-date information. 

ELi’s Voter Guide for the 2023 City Council Election

Meet this year’s candidates, as feature stories about each of the candidates are linked in this story. ELi spoke with each candidate about their history, goals for the city and why they have decided to run. Additionally, information about voting resources can be found here. 

ELi Voter Guide to the East Lansing Charter Amendment Proposals

There will be three ballot initiatives to be decided on by voters this year: One initiative would move the swearing-in date of new Council members back to January, another would increase the size of Council from five to seven members, and the third would support ranked choice voting and allow Council the
option to hold special elections to fill vacancies. Notably, City Attorney Tony Chubb has told ELi he does not believe the changes made in the third proposal are allowed under current state law. So, it is unclear when the changes would go into effect if they are supported by voters.

Read our coverage to find out what exactly each proposal would mean and the arguments for and against the initiatives. 

EL Council Candidates Try to Distinguish Themselves in Crowded Field at Public Forum

At this Sept. 14 forum, cosponsored by ELi and the Lansing Area League of Women Voters, candidates spoke about the departure of top ranking city staff members, transparency within city government and more. The forum in its entirety can be viewed here.

Two other forums were also held: The Pinecrest Neighborhood Association sponsored one on Sept. 18 and the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) hosted a debate/forum on Oct. 3. While ELi did not provide reports on the forums, a video is available of the ASMSU event.

Where do Council Candidates Stand on Moving City Elections?

This is the first of three stories where ELi reached out to candidates via email for short answer responses. In this report, candidates wrote back to say if they would support moving elections from odd- to even-numbered years. While it initially appeared this decision was to be decided by voters as a ballot initiative, it was shot down by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office – though it appears future Councils will have the option to make the switch. 

What are Council Candidates’ Plans to Help Retain City Staff

This was the second article that gave candidates a space to share their thoughts on a central issue within the city. The issue of senior staff members leaving the city ranks has been well chronicled by ELi over the last year and was an important topic for many readers. The next Council will work with new City Manager Robert Belleman to restock the city ranks and retain institutional knowledge. 

City Council Candidates Explain their Visions for Development, Affordable Housing

In the third and final short-answer piece, candidates share their thoughts on how the downtown area should be developed. With the recent controversy about a project to build workforce housing at 530 Albert Ave. and the changing skyline in East Lansing, candidates share what they would like to see going forward. 

Where the Eight City Council Candidates Stand on Ballot Initiatives

To get a sense of candidates’ preferences for the three ballot initiatives, ELi asked if each candidate would support or not support each initiative. While the ballot initiatives will be decided on by voters, responses give readers unique insight to where candidates stand on these important political matters. 

Campaign Expenses Reveal Big Differences in Resources Available to Candidates

With the election nearing, the Ingham County Clerk’s office released records showing how much money candidates raised and how they spent their resources. When analyzing the records, ELi found that Kerry Ebersole Singh crushed the field in fundraising and that several Political Action Committees (PACs) contributed to candidates.

East Lansing Pilots Early In-Person Voting

ELi provided details about an early voting center opening at the East Lansing Public Library in the Oct. 23-29 ELi Now column. Residents have been able to vote in person beginning Monday (Oct. 30) through Saturday (Nov. 4). The early voting site is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today (Nov. 3) and Saturday.

City of East Lansing on How to Spoil an Absentee Voter Ballot

Voters who would like to spoil their absentee ballot and receive a new ballot must submit a request in writing with their name, address, date and signature to the East Lansing City Clerk’s Office, 410 Abbot Road, or online at cityclerk@cityofeastlansing.com.

Forms are available at the East Lansing City Clerk’s office and online. However, the City Clerk’s office will also accept signed statements (in any form) from voters indicating they would like to spoil their ballot and receive a new one or that they requested a ballot and never received one. Voters may request a new ballot be mailed until 2 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 4) and may request a new ballot until 4 p.m. Monday (Nov. 6).

Voters who have not voted their absentee ballot can vote in person at their polling location on Election Day by completing an Affidavit of Lost or Destroyed Absent Voter Ballot or by surrendering the original ballot.

Those voting at the early voting center are not eligible to spoil their ballots.

Correction: This story has been corrected from its original version to reflect the proper language for the ballot proposal regarding ranked choice voting. (Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, 2:03 p.m.)

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