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It 'will not happen again'

Alex Doty • Aug 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Mayor Geri McCaleb and City Councilman Mike Fritz will go head-to-head this fall to determine who will be Grand Haven’s mayor for the next two years.

But there was a moment at Grand Haven City Hall on Tuesday night when it was reported that Nichol Stack, not Fritz, would be challenging McCaleb in the Nov. 7 general election.

“With the new election equipment, the absent voter (AV) ballots for various jurisdictions in the county were counted at the Ottawa County building,” Grand Haven City Clerk Linda Browand said. “After the polls closed at 8 p.m., we received calls from our polling locations with their totals and then had to wait for the AV results from the county.”

The polling location results were also sent wirelessly to the county for their reporting system.

“When the county emailed us a detailed AV results report, they, and we, did not realize the report showed the totals for each precinct for both AV and the individual polling locations,” Browand explained. “When we used the numbers in the report and added them to the numbers we already had, it ended up that the numbers from each polling location were added into the total twice.”

Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck said that the county processed the absentee ballots and then sent a detailed report to the city prior to releasing those results to the web that included both the absentee and precinct vote totals.

“Linda added her precinct totals to the grand total column, and that just created a discrepancy,” Roebuck said. “There was a little bit of confusion on her part reading the report that we sent.”

These numbers were initially thought at City Hall to be the final results for the city’s primary election, until city officials looked at the county’s online results.

“When comparing our totals to the totals report on the county website, we realized the numbers did not match, and determined what had caused the problem,” Browand said.

Officials say that the candidates were notified immediately after the error was discovered.

“It’s certainly a good reminder that all of us are prone to have errors, especially when we’re in the heat of the moment,” Roebuck said.

Browand noted that they will use the knowledge learned from this situation in the future.

“We’ll know for any future elections that there will not be a report of detailed absent voter ballot information, so that error will not happen again,” she said.

Issues in Grand Haven aside, county officials said Wednesday that they were pleased with how the new voting equipment performed Tuesday.

“It went really well, really smoothly,” Roebuck said. “We were impressed with the speed of the results reporting.”

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