In a strange election mishap two weeks ago, an Empire Township man was allowed to vote, well … twice. He was accidentally given two ballots that were stuck together. After he inserted the first one manually into the machine, the clerk realized it was stuck to a second one.
He was allowed to submit a second ballot, after insisting that he wanted to vote for his wife, Jennifer Munten, who was running for township treasurer. Incredibly the three-way treasurer race ended in a 90-90 tie between incumbent Cheryl Manning and Robert Price. Munten came in third with 30 votes. Neither candidate has yet asked for a recount. But even if they did, the voting mishap would make it very difficult, says Leelanau County Clerk Michelle Crocker.
“I wouldn’t say a recount is impossible, but it’s highly unlikely because of all the protocol hoops,” Crocker says. “There is no reason he should have been given another ballot to put in the machine. It’s not allowable, and no one should ask for a second ballot unless they spoiled their first ballot, and it has not gone through the machine. And it doesn’t matter to me how much a person is yelling at you, this is not acceptable.”
A drawing, held at 4:30 today at the counter of the county clerk in Suttons Bay, ultimately confirmed the winner of the tie. Manning, the incumbent treasurer, drew a “not nominated” strip of blue paper, while Price drew the slip that said “nominated.” Crocker told Manning that she has until Sunday morning to request a recount, Crocker says.
“I feel just horrible about,” says Empire Township Clerk Chris Neiswonger, who deeply regrets allowing the second ballot. “If I could say anything, it was a series of events that occurred and escalated at 7:20 in the morning, and it had nothing to do with the results of the tie.”