Allendale clerk apologizes after voters wait 2+ hours, we will 'work on this'

Overcrowding issues at Allendale polls

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, MICH. - The 13 Watchdog team is getting answers about what went wrong in Allendale on election night.

We first told you on Tuesday night that some voters were waiting for more than two hours, in line at one of the precincts. It's where hundreds of Grand Valley students went to vote, some for the first time.

We've also learned, overcrowding was an issue in the last presidential election in Allendale.

Now, we're asking the township clerk how she plans to improve for future elections.

Life Stream Church was supposed to be the solution in 2016 to what happened at Second Christian Reformed Church in the presidential election of 2012

"You couldn't get two cars in and out," says Laurie Richards, Allendale Township clerk. "We changed facilities."

Richards says Life Stream has a "much bigger parking lot". However on Tuesday night, overcrowding caused another issue at the polls. 

"The line kept growing because Grand Valley was bussing students," says Richards. 

Several voters told us they waited two and a half hours and they were fed up.

"I think they should have divided the precinct a little better, because that was insane to wait that long, I saw people leaving, I don't think that's good for voting," one voter told WZZM 13 on Tuesday. 

"Absentee ballot next year, that's what's going to happen, I'm not waiting in this line anymore," said another voter. 

At first, the township clerk didn't acknowledge there was a serious problem.  She simply said more students voted than expected.

When we asked what went wrong, she denied anything went wrong. 

"I don't really consider it gone wrong.  It just takes time to process that many voters," says Richards.

WZZM 13 Watchdog Alex Shabad challenged Richards on her statement that the voting process didn't go wrong if voters had to wait two and a half hours.

"It's what we have to work with the equipment," Richards responded. 

Richards says newer equipment would have helped. However, that doesn't explain the decision to have 5 precincts in one building; the most in Ottawa County.

We asked if something needs to change to not have all five precincts in one location.

"I'm not ready to answer that. We'll look into all that," says Richards. "We're going to look at how Western, how U of M, whatever, how they all do it too, because they have colleges too."

Richards says she also plans to look into precinct size and locations.  She says this time around there wasn't enough time to add another precinct because the state requires six months. 

"If we have to add another precinct we will look at that, we are going to work on this," says Richards. 

For now, there's a 'thank you' on the sign outside the building and an apology inside. 

"I am sorry, I thank the community for being patient," says Richards. 

Richards says she would also like state lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow early voting in Michigan. She believes that could help with similar situations in the future.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment