2016-11-17 / Front Page

Strong Republican Turnout for County

By Stephanie Fortino

The Tuesday, November 8, general election saw a 65.43% voter turnout in Mackinac County, as 6,237 voters cast ballots out of the county’s 9,533 registered voters. County positions and township boards were up for election this cycle, which saw record turnouts in some areas.

Of the 6,237 ballots cats, 2,080 voters cast straight party votes. Of the straight party voters, 62.93% or 1,309 were Republican and 32.64% or 679 were Democrat. Other straight party voters included 46 for Working Class, 22 for Libertarian, 16 for Green, and eight for US Taxpayer.

The City of St. Ignace saw a 53.21% voters turnout, as 1,119 voters cast ballots out of the 2,103 registered voters. Mackinac Island had a 58.45% voter turnout, as 453 ballots were cast out of 775 registered voters. Clark Township, which historically has a high voter turnout, had 70.03% voter turnout, with 1,213 voters casting ballots out of 1,732 registered voters. The highest voter turnout in Mackinac County was on Bois Blanc Island at 90.20%, as 92 voters cast ballots out of 102 registered voters.

Voter turnout this year compares to the 2012 presidential election that saw a 63.67% voter turnout in the county, said Mackinac County Clerk Mary Kay Tamlyn. While turnout was about the same, Mrs. Tamlyn said this election seemed busier than four years before.

Having worked in the Mackinac County Clerk’s office for 39 years, with 25 years as county clerk, Mrs. Tamlyn noted that this election went late into the night. St. Ignace, Moran Township, Bois Blanc Township, and Marquette Township all ran out of ballots on election day, and voters had to fill out photocopied ballots that then had to be counted by hand. The paper ballots mostly caused delays to election reporting, and the City of St. Ignace was the last precinct in the county to finish.

“The hardest part was counting the paper ballots for the city [of St. Ignace] and Moran Township,” Mrs. Tamlyn said.

Running out of ballots is unusual, said St. Ignace city clerk Renee Vonderwerth. Election workers distributed 48 paper ballots in St. Ignace, starting at 5:30 p.m.

In Clark Township, there was more than 70% voter turnout, said Julie Smith who oversees elections. The township historically has a high voter turnout, she said, in the 30th to 50th percentile.

“This one was a hot one,” she said, “and we had 70% voter turnout. That was awesome, but it meant a very busy day for all of us.”

Absentee voters were very high this election, she continued, as 567 people cast absentee ballots. The highest Mrs. Smith can remember is about 350 absentee voters.

Some absentee ballots had to be duplicated to new ballots, because of a printing error. A Green Party candidate, Fran Shor, was left off of the Wayne State University Governor’s race, requiring most absentee ballots to be reissued.

Clark Township had sent out 350 absentee ballots before the error was corrected, and 112 of those had to be duplicated to new ballots on election, if voters didn’t get the new ballots sent back in time or didn’t want to resend their ballots.

In St. Ignace, 170 incorrect absentee ballots were sent out to voters, and 21 of those ballots had to be duplicated on election night.

At Mackinac Island, 227 total absentee ballots were sent out, and 147 of those had to be resent, said city clerk Danielle Wightman. At the end of the night, only 23 ballots had to be duplicated by hand.

Election day saw a steady stream of votes in St. Ignace and Clark Township. Groups of people would come to the polls at one time, Mrs. Vonderwerth said, but there weren’t long lines. More booths were put out, she added, allowing more voters to fill in their ballots at a time than usual. From time to time, all 16 booths were filled. The city usually sets up eight to 10 booths for elections

The election was well attended, Mrs. Vonderwerth said, “because they’ve really been promoting voter registration and getting people out to vote. Especially for the presidential election, there’s been a lot more voters.”

Voters in Clark Township only had to wait up to five minutes for a booth to open up, Mrs. Smith said. Two additional voting stations were set up in the township, for a total of nine.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “We were steady all day long.”

Finishing up at 12:30 a.m., the City of St. Ignace was the last precinct in Mackinac County to have their votes reported. The elections team in Clark Township was done about 11:15 p.m.

“Everything went super smooth and our numbers were perfect,” Mrs. Smith said. “I thought for sure, our numbers would be goofed up at the end of the night.”

“It went really good,” Mrs. Vonderwerth said. “The election inspectors did a fantastic job and I’m just so happy they’re so good at their job because it makes our job easier.”

Genesee County was the last county in the state to report their results late Wednesday morning, November 9, said Secretary of State Director of Communications Gisgie Davila Gendreau.

The results of the election be certified next week when the election canvassers have finished their report.

Unofficial election tallies and statistics for Mackinac and Chippewa counties are posted on The St. Ignace News website under the Documents tab, www.stignacenews.com. Access to all documents is free.

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