Primary election sees slight rise in voter turnout

MANISTEE — The trend of registered voters turning out to cast a ballot in the primary election continued to rise in Manistee County, according to county clerk Jill Nowak.

Manistee County Clerk Jill Nowak said the 2018 August Primary election saw a slight rise in the number of voters who came out to vote. A total of 32.31 percent of the registered voters cast a ballot in Manistee on Tuesday.

Manistee County Clerk Jill Nowak said the 2018 August Primary election saw a slight rise in the number of voters who came out to vote. A total of 32.31 percent of the registered voters cast a ballot in Manistee on Tuesday.

“It was a little higher than normal for a primary,” said Nowak. “We have 19,448 registered voters in the county and 6,284 or 32.31 percent came out to vote on Tuesday. It’s sad when we think 32.31 percent is good, but that is up from the 30.10 percent that voted in August of 2016 and much higher than the 20.28 percent that voted in August 2014.”

Nowak said that although the trend seems to be on the rise, there also are other factors that influence the number of people who vote in a particular election. Ballot issues, political races and other things can influence how many come out to vote.

“We had a couple precincts that booster those numbers as we had a couple like in Arcadia Township which had a supervisor race so 61.86 percent of the registered voters voted there,” said Nowak. “Other than that the average was about the high 20 percent to low 30 percent range for most of the townships. The low voter turnout for this primary was in Cleon Township where only 22.11 percent of those registered voted.”

Nowak said this was the first time all the precincts in the county used the new Image Cast voting system that was purchased from Dominion Voting Systems, Inc.

“We used it in November 2017 for the City of Manistee and in May of 2018 we had eight precincts (out of 16 total) and in this August one all 16 precincts were on it,” said Nowak. “We are also transmitting through File Transfer Protocol which is a dedicated line that they can send us the results electronically first and then bring them in. For state and federal elections, the results have to be brought in physically to the county clerk’s office. It worked well.”

Nowak said that overall the primary went well, but they did have small issues that are common with all elections. Things like spoiled ballots because people tried to vote for candidates in both parties or issues with voters registration occurred at several locations.

“Some people still didn’t get the concept that you can only vote straight ticket for one party,” said Nowak.

Voter turnout overall in Michigan’s primary Tuesday broke records dating back to 1978 when more than 2.1 million voters cast ballots or 29 percent of the registered voters. That was especially true in the gubernatorial primary that also recorded the highest tallies since 1978.

Democratic candidates for governor received 1.1 million votes while Democratic candidates had about 986,000 votes.

Many election forecasters are wondering how that will translate into the November elections. Locally the November 2014 election  had 48.02 percent of the registered Manistee County voters cast a ballot and in the November 2016 presidential election 65.21 percent of the voters voted.

“Presidential elections always have higher numbers when it comes to the those who voted,” said Nowak. “In November we will have the governor race, some township and school millage renewals, some state candidates, school board elections, so there are some things that will bring people out.”

Nowak said her office and the board of canvassers will be dealing with one petition recount for the Filer Township Republican trustee position where Tom Williams was seeking to get his name on the ballot as the Republican candidate for that partial term position after filing for write-in status in the primary.

“Recounts can be filed within six days of the board of canvassers meeting and he filed a petition to have that done,” said Nowak. “There is different formulas that we have to use for this process to determine how many votes are needed for write-in positions. In this case he needed 16.25 votes to be put on the ballot and he received 15 votes. One more vote and he would have been in.”

Nowak said the closeness of that proves how every vote can make a difference.

“So I encourage people all the time to make sure they vote as here is a situation where one vote makes a difference,” said Nowak.

That recount process will start immediately and Nowak will gather the board of canvassers to review those results. If the recount proves successful for Williams he will have his name added to the ballot opposing Democrat Thomas Chycinski in the fall. If not, he still has the option of running as a write-in candidate.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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