Election Day in Michigan
Voters waiting outside B’nai Moshe (Danny Schwartz)

High passions and some clashes as Michigan headed to the polls.

On Election Day in Michigan, a state where voter turnout surpassed 5.5 million, the JN traveled across Metro Detroit visiting polling locations to get a feel of what voters were thinking.

The JN visited Temple Israel, Congregation B’nai Moshe, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, Norup International School and Southfield City Center.

In front of the West Bloomfield Township Public Library, a Black mother and daughter were helping people with questions about where to vote as they drove by.

Advocating for Joe Biden for President, as well as Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Elizabeth Welch for the Michigan Supreme Court race, Monique and Ava Campbell said they were canvassing there since 8 a.m. that day.

Monique, the mother, said she voted early back on the first day early voting was available.

The daughter, 16-year-old Ava, is part of the Detroit Youth Choir and actually performed at the Joe Biden and Barack Obama rally in Belle Isle on Oct. 31.

“It was really cool,” said Ava, who is also a part of the Michigan Liberation Action Fund.

“The election is not political – it is personal, for most Black people,” Monique said. “Voting for (Trump) is voting for hate.”

At Congregation B’nai Moshe, Paul Wertz of catering company Dish Kosher Cuisine delivered kosher boxed lunches to poll workers.

Sylvia Asmar, a voter at B’nai Moshe wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, believes Trump is the answer for America.

“I feel like this is the most important election of my lifetime,” Asmar said, “We’re at a crossroads in our country, and we’re being pulled in two different directions. And the direction that I’m choosing is pro-life, pro-America, pro-business, and I want to secure my children’s future with voting for Trump.”

Although many Jewish voters in the community voted early in absentee ballots and did not go to the polls on Election Day, we did catch up with one.

Jason Savine, a Jewish voter at B’Nai Moshe, said the voting process was quick, going in and out of the building in about 10 minutes. Savine didn’t disclose who he was supporting, but hopes people take the election outcome as it is.

“I hope everything goes peacefully, I’m worried about riots and stuff, but hopefully things go peacefully,” Savine said

Some Tensions Flare Up

Although the day of in-person voting in Oakland County was largely peaceful, one incident in Oak Park was an example of how many bitter political divisions can snap to the forefront in an instant.

At Norup International School, where Precincts 1, 2 & 3 voted, a Jewish journalist who was voting at the precinct harassed a Black woman canvassing outside the building, saying she “votes for Jew-haters.”

In an incident recorded on video by the JN, Ronnie Schreiber, an automobile journalist for publications including The Truth About Cars and Hagerty Media, leveled the accusation at Tracy, a woman handing out literature supporting 45th District Judge candidate Brenda Richard in her race against eventual winner Jaimie Powell Horowitz. Tracy preferred to only give her first name.

Wearing a red and white hat reading “Triggered?” and identifying himself as a Trump supporter, Schreiber asked Tracy why her party “supports Antifa,” though the 45th District Judge race is nonpartisan. Tracy later told the JN she believed the comment to be a racial assumption about her party affiliation.

The confrontation quickly escalated, with Schreiber demanding to know whether Tracy supported Rep. Rashida Tlaib. When Tracy’s husband Andre told Schreiber to leave, he responded, “You’re going to hit a little Jew?… He’s picking on the Jew!”

In the full video, Andre says, “I respect your faith, I respect your people.”

“He clearly wanted to fight,” Tracy said later. “Every community has people like him who want to make issues about race and ethnicity and make them in a hostile way where we can’t have a conversation with one another, and makes the difficult conversations that much more difficult.”

Prior to the confrontation, Schreiber had told the JN he supports Trump’s executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, which Schreiber called “propaganda” and “poisonous”.

‘Tired of All The Division’

Rachel Khemmoro, a first-time voter, declined to say who she voted for, but felt that it was such an important election that she needed to vote.

“I just think a lot of people’s rights are on the line, especially minorities,” Khemmoro said.

Terry Isaac, a Jewish voter who says he voted all Democratic at Temple B’nai Moshe, hopes the election results can shift the country in a positive direction.

“I’m tired of all the division and I just want people to shut up and do their job,” Isaac said. “Hopefully (the election outcome) puts it on a different path, rather than everything being divided and everyone being horrible because they don’t agree with someone else. That political landscape has got to change.”

At about 5 p.m, at the JNs final stop, voters were delivering their last-minute absentee ballots to the drop-box in front of Southfield City Hall, as the sun was going down and the polls were almost set to close.

Biden ended up winning Michigan, after the Associated Press called the closely contested race on Wednesday afternoon.

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