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Absentee ballots reason for delay

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

AKPENA - Absentee ballots are a convenient way for some to vote, but recording the ballots and the votes on them can in some cases be a chore, as was the case on Tuesday when the more than 1,100 absentee ballot needed to be rescanned after preliminary numbers didn't balance.

City Clerk/Treasurer Karen Hebert said there were several factors that contributed to the ballots needing to be redone and the long delay in the final totals from the city being made available. She said often absentee ballots arrive in an envelope and are not in the best of shape, which makes them difficult to scan.

"Sometimes the ballots are folded, torn or have things spilled on them and when they are scanned they may not register or may jam the tabulator. When the numbers didn't balance and we had to rescan all of them and for the ones that wouldn't scan or jam the machine we would have to fill out a duplicate and that takes a lot of time."

Hebert said it was about 1:30 a.m. when the second round of scanning was complete and the number matched. She said she had the counting board, which is in charge of tallying the ballots, come to city hall early in the afternoon and it stayed until the job was complete. Hebert said it was a long day because the board was sequestered while it was doing the ballots. Hebert said she has learned one thing from the troubles she will change at the next election.

"I had the counting board come in at noon and I am going to have them come in earlier next time that is for sure," Hebert said. "They aren't allowed to leave until the polls close at 8 p.m. and it is a long day, but I will have them come in earlier next time. I'm thinking nine in the morning, but it will depend on how many ballots we have. We had over 1,100 this time and that is a lot. The next election won't have that many because it won't be a presidential election though. So it will really depend on how many ballots we have."

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



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