Clerks: Voters in two Allegan Co. precincts had race omitted from Nov. ballot

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Kent County and Allegan County Clerks have found that voters in two Allegan County precincts did not get to vote in a race in November for Grand Rapids Community College trustee.

Kent County officials say the election for GRCC Board of Trustees spans all or parts of six Michigan counties: Allegan, Barry, Kent, Ionia, Newaygo and Ottawa.  Four candidates were running for two seats.  The race was found to not be on the ballot for precincts in Leighton and Wayland townships in Allegan County.

Officials say 1,611 registered voters in those precincts were eligible to vote in the GRCC Board of Trustees race.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” said Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski in a press release. “We take our role in working with other counties on election matters very seriously. We are working with Kent County Officials to improve election coordination in the future.”

Kent County officials say that they are required by Michigan Election Law to notify the other counties of the candidates’ names and addresses within six days of the candidate filing deadline. They say they uploaded the information into an online software system accessible to all the counties participating in the race.

Under the Michigan law, each county prepares and proofs their own ballots and then sends a copy to each candidate for review.  When that is complete, the county election commission or county election staff reviews the ballots again before sending them to print.  City and township clerks are also recommended to inspect the ballots.

In this case, officials say the candidates for GRCC Board of Trustees did not receive the Allegan County ballots for review because their names were not on the ballot in Leighton and Wayland townships.

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons says there is no way to re-do the election.

“We’ve explored every option available to set this right,” said Lyons in a press release. “Based on this research and on consultation with the Bureau of Elections, we’ve determined there are no options available to me as County Clerk to address this issue.” She goes on to say that she is “already taking steps in my office to safeguard the process to make sure this never happens again.”

Officials say the mistake was found when one candidate, Sheryl Siegel, filed a petition for a recount due to discovery of a data entry error.  That recount was approved by the Michigan Bureau of Elections on Wednesday.  The recount is not related to omission error.

Once the recount is complete, the results will stand as a final tally unless a challenge is filed.

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