Onslaught of new voters causes long line in Allendale

Some voters waited two and a half hours to cast their ballots

Allendale, 2016 election
Voters wait in line to vote in Allendale Township around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2016.

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A flood of recently registered Grand Valley State University students overwhelmed election workers at one polling location in Allendale Township, forcing them to stay open long after the polls officially closed.

Many at Life Stream Church on Lake Michigan Drive waited in line for 2.5 hours to vote. Workers said some left out of frustration without casting their ballots, though it wasn’t clear how many.

Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck told 24 Hour News 8 that third parties, including the Democratic and Republican parties and the League of Women Voters, held registration drives at the university. He said they registered 1,400 students in month preceding the election and that the university bused many of them to Life Stream Church to vote.

“We expect a large showing from Grand Valley every time there’s a presidential election, we expect that,” said Allendale Township Election Chair Kathy Hanes. “This overwhelmed us. It just came in so fast. We tried to prepare for it as best we could.”

She said they brought in extra workers and extra equipment to help get them through. They stayed open until about 9:30 p.m. to make sure they could vote.

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GVSU students Cassidy Coury, Hannah Lunsfort and Samuel Hall, all 18, said they were registered recently by the Democratic Party. All three voted for Hillary Clinton.

All three said they waited 2.5 hours.

“I thought it was pretty frustrating, but we were playing games throughout and there was candy,” Coury said. “I mean, we found ways to entertain ourselves, but, yeah, I was pretty frustrated.

“Honestly, I think it was worth it,” Lunsfort said. “I’m not that frustrated. I’m a little mad that it was two and a half hours because we’re college students and we have things to do, but I feel like it was worth it.”

“I expected it to be more convenient,” added Hall. “But it wasn’t too bad. I was hyped up, on my Democracy high.”