Alpena elections show strong voter turnout

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena County Board of Canvassers members Linda Ayres, left, and Bev Bodem sort through ballots from Tuesday’s election in order to certify them. The board is comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats along with County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs. It meets the day after each election to verify the vote totals.

ALPENA — Though there were few items on the ballot for both the City of Alpena and Alpena County, there was a strong turnout at the polls Tuesday according to statistics.

With only the proposed jail millage on the ballot for most of the townships and pair of Alpena Municipal Council seats up for grabs in the city, nearly 22 percent of registered voters in the county went to the polls.

In total 5,051 ballots were cast out of the 23,011 registered voters in the county.

In the city, 24.63 percent of registered voters cast ballots on the millage and council candidates, while in Alpena Township 24.82 percent of the 7,278 registered voters voted.

The jail millage proposal struggled in some of the outlying townships in the county. In Wilson Township the count was 159 for and 219 against and in Maple Ridge Township it was 103 for and 171 against. Ossineke Township voted 112 for and 153 against. Once the votes from the city and Alpena Township began rolling in, however, the early concerns about the proposal failing were wiped away, as there was a lot of support from voters in the city and township. The final vote count was 2,855 for and 2,496 opposed.

County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs said for the most part things went well, but having an unprecedented four candidates on the city ballots caused totals to come in a bit slower. She said there also was some confusion because there were changes to where some people needed to vote, since the last election.

“Overall it went well though,” Friedrichs said.

The Alpena clerk’s office was receiving calls from voters who were affected by the polling location changes. Assistant Clerk/Treasurer Karen Hebert said the city did several things to inform voters about the location changes.

She said it was discussed at council and uploaded on YouTube, added to the city website, advertised in the paper. Hebert said all registered voters also were notified by mail.

“The law requires us to send each one a new voting card and the new information is on it,” Hebert said. “We also had signs at the old locations directing people to the new ones.”

Friedrichs said there were a few minor technical glitches due to aging election equipment, which will be replaced in time for the 2018 primary.

“There were some snafus like machines that were jamming and another machine was only reading the ballots if they were inserted in one direction,” she said. “We definitely need the new equipment, but as far as the totals, they came out OK. They were all double checked and the board of canvassers will verify them again.”

The board of canvassers met on Wednesday afternoon.

Hebert said it was a long night for election workers and employees in her office. She said each write-in vote needed to be counted by hand and the different variations of spelling logged at the precincts. Hebert said then the ballots were delivered to city hall where they were tabulated and the preliminary results posted. She said there was some confusion with the process and a few minor technical glitches, but for the most part things went OK.

“The way we had to handle the write-in votes slowed the process and the count needed to be done manually, but the workers and staff handled things well,” Hebert said. “There were some small things that popped up, but in the end everything worked out.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.