CADILLAC — Election results in Osceola and Wexford counties were certified Thursday by the board of canvassers two days after the Tuesday primary election.
Wexford County Clerk Alaina Nyman and Osceola County Clerk Karen Bluhm confirmed that results were certified with no changes from the preliminary totals that were previously announced. Missaukee County results were verified on Wednesday with no changes.
There were delays in certifying the Wexford totals because absentee ballots from the city of Cadillac were counted among the precincts where those voters lived rather than in a separate category, Nyman said.
"We had to contact our vendors to find out how to separate those out," Nyman said.
Major Republican races were decided in Osceola and Missaukee counties, including Mark Cool's defeat of incumbent Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams, incumbent Missaukee County Prosecutor David DenHouten's defeat of challenger Cameron Harwell, and incumbent Missaukee County Sheriff Wil Yancer's defeat of challenger Ed Nettle.
A record 2.5 million votes were cast in Michigan’s primary, as people took advantage of no-excuse absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Thursday.
The count surpassed the previous record of 2.2 million from 2018, when — unlike Tuesday — there were contested statewide contests for governor and U.S. Senate. Nearly one-third of the state’s voting-age population participated.
About 1.6 million ballots were absentee, returned by mail or at drop boxes — topping the record of 1.3 million from November 2016.
“That key metric of turnout, we are really proud that voters blew it out of the water. Voters really showed up, voted by mail, voted in person and demonstrated that even in the midst of a pandemic, people want to vote,‘ said Benson, who for the first time ensured that every registered voter was mailed an absentee ballot application for the primary and general elections.
She projected 5 million people will vote in the fall presidential election, which would be the most since 2008. The Democrat again urged the Republican-led Legislature to change the law so clerks can open absentee ballots the day before Election Day, warning that the results of close races in November likely will not be known until three days later without legislation.
Bluhm and Nyman both said they had not heard any reports from township officials that late absentee ballots weren't counted; then again, that's not necessarily something they would have to report to the county clerk's office.
Bluhm said one of the things about this election that was most concerning for elections officials was cross voting, when a ballot has marks for candidates in multiple parties — something you cannot do in a primary election.
When someone votes in person, these types of mistakes can be corrected for by filling out another ballot but for absentee ballots, those votes must be discarded.
While there's no question that Osceola County received more absentee ballots this election than they have in the past, it's hard to say how many votes in partisan races, such as sheriff, had to be thrown out because of cross voting, Bluhm said.
For example, when comparing the number of votes cast in countywide non-partisan proposals compared to those cast for sheriff — taking unresolved write-in votes into consideration — Bluhm said the data indicates that 689 votes for sheriff are unaccounted for.
Bluhm said while some of those missing votes may be from people that chose not to vote in the sheriff's race, some may also be instances of cross-voting between parties. Determining the exact number of either instance is very difficult, Bluhm said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.