ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday, the electronic message board greeting people as they arrived in Allendale Township read, “Your patience was very much appreciated.”
It was referring to Tuesday’s election, when some citizens at one precinct had to wait for more than two hours to cast their ballots as workers scrambled to get new voters checked in and the line moving.
Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck said last-minute voter registration drives at Grand Valley State University racked up nearly 1,400 new voters, which led to the long line.
“I think the reality is we had a lot of people voting and that’s a good thing. The clerk again was proactively addressing that situation prior to election day,” Roebuck said.
Allendale Township Clerk Laurie Richards refused an on-camera interview with 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday, saying she didn’t have time, but she explained the last-minute voters came after the deadline to create another precinct. Richards also said the onslaught of voters was like nothing they had seen before.
24 Hour News 8 asked the county clerk to pull voting numbers from 2008 during another highly contested presidential election that also had a lot of focus on young voters. Allendale Township had 3,357 registered voters and 2,301 actually voted. The numbers are in the same range as they were this year, with 3,169 registered voters and 2,039 actually casting ballots.
“I think the first step is a conversation and collaboration between GVSU and the local clerk’s office, and our office is more than willing to participate in that conversation,” Roebuck said of how to solve the problem in future elections.
Roebuck recommends agreeing to open a precinct on campus and then work out parking.