Primary tie discovered in recount broken by chance

Muskegon County

HOLTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A rare part of the democratic process was exercised at the Muskegon County Courthouse Wednesday morning. 

An election for the two Republican nominees for trustee in Holton Township came within one vote after the Aug. 4 election.

Three candidates ran for the trustee position. The top two candidates will move on to the November election, at which point they will face Democratic counterpart, Matt C. Wildfong, who ran unopposed.

Chris Thompsen secured the top spot with 165 votes. Brian Norton the second spot with 157 and, rounding out the bottom, Tammy Jager with 156. 

The apparent loser of the election, Jager, called for a recount since the tally was so close. It was at the recount that one ballot, misread by a tabulating machine and disqualified, was reexamined by the canvassers and then awarded to Jager, resulting in the tie. 

Michigan law states “in the ‘rare instance’ where two candidates tie for a nomination or election, the tie is broken by a drawing.” The canvassing board selects a date when the candidates meet to draw two slips of paper, one that reads “ELECTED” and another which reads “NOT ELECTED” from a box. The candidate who draws the elected slip is then legally awarded the position. 

Jager and Township Clerk Sarah Hippler drew slips Wednesday morning, as Norton was unable to attend the meeting.

Jager won.

Hippler, who has served as the Holton Township Clerk for two years had never before seen a tie breaking event in person, but says they highlight the importance of every vote. 

“You always hear like every vote matter and especially in local elections, it really, really does,” Hippler said before the drawing. “I would say it really matters that you vote correctly. Make sure you’re filling in your bubbles correctly. Make sure if you make a mistake, there is no harm in saying I need a new ballot and in going ahead and getting a new ballot.”

Hippler said small townships like Holton need more help in the November election. If you’re interested in volunteering, she would love to hear from you at

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