July 15 • 10:53 PM

Absentee ballots add to busy Election Day

November 05, 2008
TRI-CITY AREA — Though yesterday's election kept workers busy handling the large voter turnout at the polls, city and township clerks have been busy for days keeping pace with a larger than average request for absentee ballots.

In Mussey and Berlin townships, absentee requests were up, with about 300 already requested in Berlin as of Friday.

The exact numbers in Mussey weren't available, but township employee Marsha Ruhlman says absentee ballot requests were on the rise.

"I've been here three years and I've never seen this many," Ruhlman says.

The same was true in Imlay City, where about 300 absentee ballots had been handed out as of Friday.

"It's about 100 more than we normally get," city clerk Jan Zuhlke notes.

In Imlay Township, absentee ballot requests outpaced that of the last general election in 2004.

"That number (2004) was just slightly over 200, and as of now we're just over 300 with more still coming in," clerk Dawn Childers says.

An experienced clerk, Childers says the absentee requests correlate with voter turnout.

"An increase in number indicates there will be a lot of people voting in person as well," she says. "In 2004 we had about 1,900 registered voters and almost 1,600 showed up at the polls. This year we have 2,200 registered voters and we're expecting 1,800. Plus there are already 300 absentee ballots out."

Absentee ballot requests in Dryden Township zoomed to around 700, almost double the usual amount according to clerk Bonnie Rumley.

"We have about 200 on a permanent list but there is a big increase," Rumley says. "We've had an increase in voter registrations as well."

The township has about 1,800 voters in two precincts. Rumley says about 70 percent turned out to vote in 2004, and she expected that number to increase yesterday.

"It's a lot of extra pressure, but I have great help," Rumley says.

The increased number of absentee ballots can put a strain on election workers who are already busy processing voters. Generally, they'll process the absentee ballots when there's a lull in the voting line. But since yesterday's turnout was expected to be heavy, some clerks speculated last week that those ballots may have to be processed after the polls close.

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