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Issue with absentee ballots cause delay

November 7, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - Problems tallying absentee ballots in several locations in Alpena County kept hopeful candidates waiting for hours on conclusions to their elections.

More than 1,300 absentee ballots needed to be rescanned after numbers didn't match after the initial tallies were done. Races involving the local recall, commissioners seats and the county's treasurer position were all affected.

Other races were able to be officially determined including the Long Rapids Township Supervisor position in which Republican Howard Lumsden defeated Glen Dill 333 votes to 71.

Article Photos

News Photo by Andrew Westrope
Residents of Precinct 6 in Alpena line up at St. Bernard Catholic Church Parish Center on Tuesday to cast their votes in the general election. Before the polls had closed, precinct worker Carol Beatty said turnout seemed even higher than in 2008, with lines out the door and all 13 voting booths filled frequently throughout the day.

Republican John Male won the Maple Ridge Supervisor job by downing Democrat Rich Kasubowski 372-369. Lenore Kasubowski and Ronald McDonald were the top two vote getters for the Maple Ridge Trustee seats open.

Local candidates, along with supporters waited at the Alpena County Clerk's Office as results trickled in until news broke about the difficulties at some of the polling stations and then they departed not knowing if they had won and lost.

"With the large number of absentee ballots out there there are separate counting boards out there," Clerk Bonnie Friedrich said. "With the ABs a lot of them are folded, the military ones have to be duplicated, but the workers are working to tabulate them. They have had errors and problems with things not balancing out, so they have had to back track and recount so we can make sure no vote was counted twice and every vote that should will count.'

At the time of the problems Councilmen Mike Nunneley and Dave Karschnick were losing their bid to avoid recall from the Alpena Municipal Council, while Mayor Matt Waligora was prevailing in his effort to remain mayor. District No. 5 Commissioner Gerald Fournier was trailing challenger Scot McKenzie by 25 votes when things bogged down and Republican Jorden Susewitz was narrowly trailing incumbent Jeff Kowalski for the District No. 1 commissioners position. The race for the Alpena County treasurer was being led by Kim Ludlow who was holding off Keith Maskell. Friedrich said the problems are not cause by a flaw in the system and said taking the time to double check votes was the responsible thing to do to be sure the number are correct.

"Once they get the numbers to balance there won't be any doubt about if they are right or wrong," Friedrich said. "Once the clerks re-tabulate them and they have a zero balance on their ballot summery their totals will be right. We just needed to take a step back and regroup to make sure everything is right."

Alpena County wasn't the only county in northern Michigan having issues, causing the results in the 1st Congressional District, 105th House and 106th House races to remain in limbo. Look for results in Thursday's edition of The News, and at

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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