Hosler named to Bloomfield Hills Commission after write-in battle

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 17, 2017

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Just hours before the new commissioner was set to be sworn into office during the Bloomfield Hills Board of Commissioners meeting last Tuesday, the Oakland County Board of Canvassers determined who that would be.

With 122 of the 185 write-in votes, write-in candidate William Hosler was named to the fifth and final seat on the commission. Write-in candidate Mark Kapel received 51 of the votes.

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that the voters have given me, and I’m looking forward to working hard for the city over the next two years,” Hosler said last week after the result was announced.

The attorney, who has experience on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Commission, said during the campaign that he wouldn’t have thought to run for the seat had outgoing Commissioner Michael Dul opted not to run for re-election.

The write-in candidates cumulatively accounted for less than 10 percent of the ballots cast for commissioner. Comparatively, the other four incumbent candidates who filed each garnered about 22 percent of votes.

The city was likely on pins and needles as the Board of Canvassers sifted through the less-than 200 votes to name the winner.

Lisa Brown, Oakland County clerk, said there’s much more to counting unassigned write-in votes than many people might think.

“With our new voting equipment, when someone fills in a rectangle for a write-in candidate, the machine scans that area of the ballot and takes a photo,” Brown explained. “Once the polls are closed, a write-in tape is printed by poll workers, but those images are sent electronically to the Board of Canvassers, which needs to go through every single image to see, first, if anything was actually written in that space or if the voter just blacked out the write-in rectangle. Then, they need to see if the write-in is a certified candidate and assign the vote to the correct one.”

The canvassers are appointed by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, and one Democrat and one Republican are assigned to simultaneously assign each write-in vote, for fairness.

And that process needed to be done for several write-in races around the county, which accounted for the delay in results.

“We have to prioritize (races) based on which certified write-ins are going to be sworn in first,” she said. “South Lyon’s mayoral election was solely write-in candidates, and they took office Monday night, so that needed to be adjudicated first.”

Write-in candidate Mark Kapel could not be reached for comment before press time.