Turnout high in primary election

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 9, 2018

WEST BLOOMFIELD — On Aug. 7, voters in the Beacon’s coverage area decided on six primary races, electing candidates to run against each other this November.

Throughout the state, voter turnout was up, and Oakland County was no exception, but high numbers led to some issues at the polls, and many voting precincts found themselves short on ballots.

One such precinct was located at Walnut Creek Middle School, one of West Bloomfield Township’s busiest voting locations.

“It was not as widespread as we expected,” said Paula Cummings, a township election specialist. But, she said, it still happened.

West Bloomfield Township saw a 35.92 percent voter turnout, beating the next-highest turnout in a same-level election by nearly 12 percent — in 2002, 23.3 percent of voters cast ballots.

“We’re above the state average and we’re above our average,” said Township Clerk Debbie Binder.

Binder said that absentee voting was pretty average compared to past elections.

When it comes to the number of ballots a municipality has, the city or township doesn’t decide.

“We don’t decide the number of ballots we order,” said Binder. “The county does — they send us (information) of the maximum number of ballots to have, and we can’t adjust it. We can’t go beyond the maximum. We’re told how many to order based on previous elections.”

On the day of the primary, Binder said, she and her department printed ballots at Township Hall and ran them to the precincts that needed them.

“This is an opportunity for the county and local clerks to plan for future elections,” she said. “We need to have a solid contingency plan for (high turnout). It was stressful for local clerks. ... The goal is to have this be a lesson.”

At the precincts that ran out of ballots, all voters in line by 8 p.m. were still given the chance to vote, as per state law. Binder estimated that at the busiest polling location, people were done voting by 9 p.m.

“We worked diligently to ensure voters had their vote and their voice,” she said.

Laurie Gilman, the deputy clerk for Keego Harbor, said the city processed 607 ballots and it was “very busy” all day.

Rhonda McClellan, the clerk for the city of Orchard Lake Village, said they received 677 ballots and it was “constant all day.”

“More people are just interested in getting out there and getting their vote counted,” she said. “If we’re having an election, we might as well have an election.”

The clerk for Sylvan Lake could not be reached for comment by press time.

In local races, Republican Jim Runestad won his party’s nomination for the state Senate District 15 race with 89 percent of the vote over Mike Saari and will be up against Democrat Julia Pulver in November.

Brenda Carter was one of six Democrats running for her party’s nomination for the state House of Representatives’ 29th District. She took the nomination with just over 3,000 votes and will go against Republican Timothy Carrier in November.

Ryan Berman edged out four other candidates for the Republican nomination for the state House’s 39th District. He received 4,117 votes. Berman will be up against Democrat Jennifer Suidan and Libertarian Anthony Croff in November.

David Wolkinson secured the Republican nomination for the state House of Representatives’ District 40 against five other candidates, while Mari Manoogian claimed a victory over one other candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Kristin Nelson will be the Democrat running for the District 5 Oakland County Board of Commissioners seat in November against Republican Tom Berman.

Karen J. Adams will be the Democrat running for the commission’s District 7 seat against Republican Christine A. Long in November.