web analytics

Categorized | News

Corrected vote count changes winner of Supervisor race in Nelson Township


UPDATED on August 11, 2016

by Judy Reed

The Post reported in last Thursday’s paper that Nelson Township Supervisor Tom Noreen lost to his opponent, Robyn Britton in last week’s primary election. But it turns out that wasn’t the case.

On Wednesday morning August 3, the morning after the election, the voting results displayed through electionmagic.com, the software that Kent County uses, showed that Britton had won 138-86. But by Thursday, August 4, the election totals had changed, and showed Noreen winning with 221 votes to Britton’s 201. The Post called Kent County Elections Director Sue DeSteiguer to find out what happened.

It turns out that the problem was that she had not included the absentee ballots in the results. “The county (me personally) does the programming and has the reports showing the votes by both precinct and absentee counting board. When I printed that report Wednesday morning in preparation for the canvass is when I realized I hadn’t uploaded those votes,” she explained.

According to the Election Official’s Manual of 2016, there are two ways absentee ballots can be counted. Absent voter ballots may be processed and counted by the board of election inspectors appointed to serve at the voter’s assigned precinct, or by an absent voter counting board. If done by the election inspectors, the votes are tabulated in with the precinct. But, if they are counted by an absent voter counting board, that board is considered a separate precinct, and reports its results separately from regular precincts.

“Each municipality has the option to count absentee ballots as an absent voter counting board,” said DeSteiguer. “But up until this year, Nelson had never done an absent voter counting board. The software didn’t flag it; it showed all votes in, that all precincts were counted. It wasn’t until we started to do an official count on Wednesday that I noticed I forgot to upload the absentee ballots,” she explained.

That means that all the vote totals changed. But the only race it affected was the Supervisor’s race. The Post reported before the election that Supervisor Tom Noreen had wanted to withdraw, but it was too late to get his name off the ballot. DeSteiguer said that since he won, he would still be the Republican candidate on the ballot in November. He could still face a write-in, or another alternative party candidate. “If he wins, but does not want to accept the office, it becomes a vacancy and the township board then must appoint someone,” explained DeSteiguer. She said that Britton does not automatically get the office. But she could run as a write-in.

Noreen told the Post that since the voters voted him in, he will stay on as Supervisor, for the time being, but with an eye on retiring in the near future. He said he’d like to possibly appoint Britton as his deputy supervisor, since Nelson Township does have that office, though it’s not currently filled.

Britton acknowledged that she did have that conversation with Noreen, but will have to wait til November to see what happens after the general election, since a write-in could still run. “I’m keeping my options open and checking on running as a write-in. But for now, I’m just going to attend the Planning Commission meetings and board meetings and just see what plays out.”

Britton said she wasn’t running “against” Noreen, but for the office. “I have the utmost respect for this man. I ran because I believed that I could fill an open position and could work with a group of people and try to make a difference in my community. I’m very happy with my decision to run, even though I didn’t like how it ended. But at the end of the day, I taught my kids the most important lessons of all—that one vote does count.”

One other count that changed had to do with the overall voter participation in Kent County. The electionmagic software reported it at just under nine percent. But it turns out it was over 15 percent. While the actual vote totals were correct for the other municipalities, DeSteiguer said that the software did not reflect the absentee ballots when totaling the percentage of registered voters who turned out. “It was a minor third party software glitch,” she said.

In other election news, DeStiguer said that in Oakfield Township, Paul Decess may ask for a recount in the Oakfield Supervisor race. Oakfield Supervisor Willam (Greg) Dean won over Decess by 9 votes. She said that the official canvass would be finished by midweek. Decess has six days after the official canvass is completed to petition and pay for a recount. As of Wednesday morning, August 10, she said she had not heard from Decess.

This post was written by:

- who has written 19598 posts on Cedar Springs Post Newspaper.

Contact the author

Comments are closed.



Get Your Copy of The Cedar Springs Post for just $40 a year!