By vanessa Mccray
TRAVERSE CITY — Barbara Ance took her two sons with her to the polls when she cast her ballot at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center.
A sunny autumnal day greeted local voters, who approached the Civic Center polls in pairs, with children, on bikes and by car. Ance makes it a point to bring her boys with her when she votes in elections, and she's a regular voter.
"It's easy. It's fun. It's a family thing, and it's expected," Ance said.
She was particularly motivated to vote today to support gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder and Traverse City attorney Mike Stepka, who's running for 86th District Court judge.
A crowded ballot of state offices, proposals, local races, millage requests and more drew voters to the polls today.
By 5 p.m., 939 voters submitted ballots at Benzie County's Almira Township precinct, near Lake Ann. Polls wouldn't close for three hours. At first, election inspector Clarence Beauchamp didn't believe the line of voters stretched into the hallway. A separate line formed at his station near the ballot collection machine.
"You're kidding," he said. "We're doing well. I like it."
In Grand Traverse County's Long Lake Township, voter turnout had been steady throughout the day at Bay Pointe Community Church, said Ronda Robinson, the township's deputy clerk. Election workers used laptops for the second time Tuesday — the first was during the August primary — which allowed them to scan driver's licenses instead of highlighting names on a paper list. The technology helped shorten lines, Robinson said.
"We're over 50 percent (turnout) and heading toward 60," she said this evening.
Patti Day, of Garfield Township, didn't come out to the polls because she was eager to vote in a particular race. She just makes a habit of it.
"It's my right and I'm going to vote," she said. "It's just really important.
The main draw for Ethan Waddell, also of Garfield Township, was the gubernatorial race.
"I just wanted to see a Republican in office," he said. "I'm tired of the Democrats."
On the other side of the political spectrum was Jim Graham, a former political science professor in Illinois. He cast his vote for the Democrats in Suttons Bay Township.
"I'm a pretty hard core liberal," said Graham, who gave his nod to Virg Bernero, the Democrat running for governor.
The governor's race also attracted attention from Buddy Bothwell, of Almira Township, who said Michigan needs a leader to turn the economy around. He voted for Rick Snyder because he believes the Republican businessman can bring positive leadership and jobs to the state.
Employment and the housing market are "all pretty much connected," Bothwell said. "The people who aren't working aren't buying houses."
Some voters expressed frustration over mudslinging political ads and expressed relief the political season was drawing to a close.
"I hate the commercials," Ance said.
The increase in the number and negativity of television advertising didn't go unnoticed by voters such as Melanie Hardy of Traverse City and Kathy Chamberlain of Garfield Township, but they said ads don't influence how they vote.
"I don't rely on the television; it's all just very negative," Hardy said.
Chamberlain said she's had enough political advertising to last a long while.
"I'm tired of the whole political thing, the childishness of he said this, or he said that," Chamberlain said.
-- Record-Eagle reporters Alex Piazza, Art Bukowski, Lindsay Vanhulle and Brian McGillivary contributed to this report.