Lessons from 2016 to ease GVSU voting backup


ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Ottawa County says it’s taking steps to prevent a repeat of long lines to vote in Allendale Township.

In the 2016 presidential election, so many Grand Valley State University students turned out that the polls had to stay open late to accommodate them.

This year, about 15 percent of Ottawa County registered voters voted absentee. In the GVSU precinct, that figure was only 1 percent. That means there should be a big turnout, but the county officials said Monday they are prepared.

“I believe that we’ve made significant changes so that we won’t see the same problems we saw in 2016,” Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck, who’s in charge of elections, said.

He said there are more booths, bus trips and preparation ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election.

“That’s good that they have more buses,” GVSU senior Hannah Smallagan said.

She is planning to drive to the polls, but she’s glad efforts are being made to have things run a little smoother this time around.

“I planned on voting regardless … but it’s nice if there aren’t long lines,” she said.

GVSU provides free busing to the polls, but in 2016, there were only a few trips and that led to a backup at the booths. This year, the county clerk worked with the university to add more trips.

“This creates a situation where there is not 50 people in line at one moment, but maybe 15,” Roebuck said.

There will also be double the number of booths. State law requires one booth per every 300 voters, but Allendale Township will have one for every 80 voters.

“The main backlog, if you will, is when people are actually taking the time to sit down and fill out their ballot,” Roebuck said.

Another tip to avoid a long wait is to watch what time you go to vote. It’s best if you go between 9 a.m. and noon or between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

You can confirm your polling location and check your sample ballot at the Michigan Secretary of State’s website.

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