Strong voter turnout locally, statewide

Krystle Wagner • Nov 8, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Voters turned out in strong numbers for Tuesday’s midterm election.

More than 64 percent of registered voters in Ottawa County cast ballots, which is up from 48 percent during the midterm election in 2014, according to Ottawa County Elections Coordinator Steve Daitch. Statewide, voter turnout was the highest in 56 years, according to the Associated Press.

More than 4 million voters cast ballots in Michigan, and 4 percent of precincts statewide were still untallied as of Wednesday morning, according to unofficial results.

About 33,000 absentee ballots were issued in Ottawa County, and more than 130,000 ballots were cast for the Nov. 6 election.

Those numbers are closer to what’s expected in presidential elections, Daitch said.

In 2016, 72 percent of registered voters in Ottawa County cast ballots. That year, 34,500 absentee ballots were issued, and an overall 144,000 ballots cast.

A strong turnout throughout the state and the governor seat up for election are a few of the reasons Daitch said he believes brought voters to the polls.

Going into Tuesday’s election, officials anticipated a higher voter turnout and a longer time to cast ballots because voters couldn’t cast a straight ticket ballot.

Nearly 60 percent of Ottawa County voters chose the straight ticket option during the 2016 election, Daitch said.

Aside from precincts remaining busy all day, Daitch said he didn’t hear of significant issues. Daitch said they encouraged clerks to have enough voting booths and room for people to cast their ballots given the anticipated turnout and longer time voting.

As results came in, the Ottawa County elections website went down, stranding those eager to find local results. Daitch said they’re still looking into what caused the issue.

Despite the website issues, Daitch said there weren’t problems with results coming in, and they worked to report the numbers once they were available.

Daitch said that while county officials work to report results, their main focuses are also that each vote is counted and that voters have a positive experience at the precincts.

Local clerks and 1,000 election workers throughout the county processed thousands of ballots on Tuesday.

Some of those workers started their day at 6 a.m. and didn’t leave until well after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Daitch said he’s grateful for their work and proud of the work put into the midterm election.

“They did a great job handling the high turnout,” he said.

Next, the Board of Canvassers will meet to certify election results.

The outcome of the Spring Lake Public Schools’ Board of Education is one of the first races the group will count.

Since three individuals running were write in candidates, Daitch said there are a lot of name variations that need to be voted upon before votes are considered valid. Results are expected to be announced in the coming days.

The audit of all election results  can take up to two weeks before votes are official, Daitch said.

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