Vernon Township voters get ballots with wrong school board race

Every clerk knows issues will arise, but one problem in Shiawassee County could eventually lead to a recount.
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 6:01 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/21/2020) - Millions of Michiganders have requested absentee ballots for the upcoming election and hundreds of thousands have already returned them.

Shiawassee County’s Clerk said they had three times the number of requests this election.

Every clerk knows issues will arise, but one problem in Shiawassee County could eventually lead to a recount.

A voter reached out to ABC12 News to share that some people are being asked to vote for the wrong school district’s school board.

Shiawasee County Clerk Caroline Wilson confirmed and explained this issue only impacts a Vernon Township precinct.

A different voter called her office a few weeks ago about it; and, she thought the problem was solved.

But Clerk Caroline Wilson said more than 800 people are registered to vote there, so she’s asking them to take a second look at the absentee ballots they received.

“The ballot came in the mail probably a week ago, and we were busy all the time; and so, one night we sat down and he said well I better fill this out,” Patricia Cruthers said.

The Vernon Township woman explained her husband is voting absentee for the first time in this election.

He’s already been hesitant about the process, but waiting in line at the polls isn’t an option with his current health condition.

So, it didn’t help when he received the wrong ballot, asking him to vote for the Durand School Board.

“He said I can’t vote for Durand. I’m not paying Durand taxes, that would be illegal. So then he said, call the clerk and find out what’s going on,” Cruthers said.

She explained the clerk is sending her a new ballot, but told her they could still use that ballot and it will be counted, so will their votes if they filled in any bubbles next to Durand School Board candidates.

“Okay, people in Corunna School District are going to be voting on the Durand issues? So that’s technically, as my husband says illegal. Well that’s voter fraud,” Cruthers said.

And, she added there are people running for the Corunna School Board, which they’d like to vote on.

“It’s human error. I don’t know how it happened,” County Clerk Wilson said.

She explained if voters in Vernon Township’s Precinct Two notice this issue before sending in their absentee ballot, they can meet with the Vernon Township clerk to surrender the ballot and get a new one.

If it’s already been sent in, she said you can do the same thing. You have to show up by Friday, October 30th, to spoil your ballot and vote on the correct one.

If you choose to not do anything, your vote will still count. Yes, even if you voted for Durand but live in Corunna’s school district.

So depending on the election results, this could prompt a recount for the two school board’s elections.

“Prior to my being aware of this issue with her, I feel that there were things not in place in the qualified voter file, that would have helped this issue not happen,” Clerk Wilson added.

She’s also warning people who still haven’t returned their ballots to do so in person rather by mail. Because, she said it might not arrive in time.

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