DETROIT (AP) — Voters in some Michigan communities waited more than an hour Tuesday to get a ballot brimming with candidates for major offices as well as a series of amendments to the state constitution that range from alternative energy to union rights and bridges.
Poll workers passed out sample ballots for people to study as they stood in a line that snaked through the halls at a Grosse Pointe Woods school in suburban Detroit. The secretary of state's office predicted turnout likely would be around 66 percent, the statewide figure in the 2008 presidential election.
A Flint official said long ballots were gumming up electronic scanners in that city, although she insisted the problem could be fixed. In Bay City, two politicians fought outside a church.
Besides the election for president, the Michigan ballot had races for Congress, state Legislature and state Supreme Court. Tens of millions of campaign dollars were spent on hot issues that had nothing to do candidates.
Proposal 6 called for changing the constitution to require a referendum on any plan for a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The campaign was backed by billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, in response to a competing bridge proposed this year by Michigan and Ontario.
"I don't have a problem amending the constitution if it's for the betterment of all the people. But Matty Moroun's monopoly has got to end," said Frank Yoakam, 38, a general contractor in Grosse Pointe Woods who voted against Proposal 6.
Porsha Wilburn, 29, of Lansing sat in her pickup truck for about an hour before polls opened at Bethlehem Temple Church. She said she supported Proposal 6 but voted no on the rest. She doesn't believe Gov. Rick Snyder's claim that a new bridge wouldn't eat up tax dollars.
"You can't say there's not enough money for police and fire protection, then go build a bridge," Wilburn said.
Dozens of people stood outside the Lansing church as doors opened. The scene was similar at a Detroit recreation center that served as a polling place.
"I like Obama," said the Lansing man, who's on Social Security and works part-time. "I think he comes across as an honest man. Obama had a lot to deal with when he came into office. You can't change everything overnight."
During Obama's presidency, Pete Kennedy, 57, of Grosse Pointe Woods said he lost his job working for a company that served the financial services industry. He turned to his own business, treating lakes and ponds that have unwanted vegetation.
"I'm an independent. I don't see the leadership skills that I thought were there," Kennedy said of Obama. "We need someone who understands how to get the economy moving. That's Romney."
Polls this year consistently favored Obama, although narrowly. Romney emphasized personal ties to his native state but was hard-pressed to overcome his opposition to the Obama administration's rescue of General Motors and Chrysler.
In addition to presidential race, six contentious proposals could be among the strongest indicators of the statewide mood.
Five proposals would alter the Michigan Constitution, including one that would give public and private workers the right to collectively bargain, effectively keeping it out of the hands of anti-union lawmakers. Proposal 1 asked voters whether to keep a law that allows the governor to appoint emergency managers with broad powers to fix poor cities and school districts.
Dan Priebe, 29, of Grosse Pointe Woods, a student and movie theater projectionist, said he voted for Obama, a Democrat, and endorsed the emergency manager law, a Republican priority.
"It puts the power in someone else's hands so they can take care of things without a lot of corruption," Priebe said.
Other ballot questions would order electric utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025 and make tax increases contingent on two-thirds approval in the Legislature.
Snyder, a Republican, isn't on the ballot but has been in campaign mode, supporting the tough emergency manager law and voicing firm opposition to all other proposals, which could limit future budget options and thwart his efforts to overhaul Michigan's tax structure.
Wayne State law professor Jocelyn Benson, director of the Michigan Center for Election Law, said there were dozens of calls about broken machines in the Detroit area. In Flint, city Clerk Inez Brown said electronic ballot scanners were having trouble digesting a ballot that was 4 inches longer than usual. She told The Flint Journal the problem wasn't "unreasonable."
Tensions were high in Bay City where two county commissioners got into a fight outside a polling place at a Roman Catholic church. Democrat Kim Coonan and Republican Joe Davis blamed each other.
Clerk's offices in some populous counties expected slightly lower voter participation than in 2008. Oakland County, which primarily elects Republicans to county positions but hasn't gone for a GOP presidential candidate since 1988, forecast a turnout between 70 percent and 72 percent — a negligible decline from a record 72.5 percent in 2008.
Most counties "would be happy to see a 70 percent turnout," spokesman David Mroz said.
Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffkaroub
Associated Press writers David Aguilar, Mike Householder, Corey Williams and John Flesher contributed to this report.