Humidity note to Tuesday's vote

·2 min read

Aug. 5—GREILICKVILLE — Elmwood Township's chief election official could tell just by touching paper Tuesday that Election Day was going to be humid.

Humidity can complicate the process.

Moisture affects the paper the ballots are printed on, which, in turn, can cause the tabulators into which the ballots are fed to kick some of them back, said township Clerk Connie Preston.

This is nothing new — this seasoned elections pro has seen it, on and off, for about 20 years.

"And we used to not have air-conditioning in our township hall, that was one of the, I think, major ways I helped the board decide to put in air-conditioning over there," she said.

However, the AC was off that day, Preston said. Ongoing construction meant the ventilation unit was disconnected Tuesday. So that was a problem.

Relative humidity levels reached 87 percent just before 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to National Weather Service preliminary data from Traverse City. That level coasted down to about 36 percent just before 7 p.m., then nearly doubled again just in time for polls to close.

Those weather conditions can cause some headaches as election precinct workers had to feed the kicked-back ballots into the tabulator again, Preston said. One voter got upset that their ballot took some effort before the machine accepted it, she said.

Jams also are occasionally a problem with absentee ballots since they've been folded. But simple strategies can help avoid these difficulties. For example, ballots come sealed in packs of 100. "We try not to open a pack until they're needed, just to try to keep the moisture down," she said.

Even with one of Elmwood's precincts seeing the occasional humidity-related problem, Tuesday's primary election went smoothly, Preston said. The number of ballots cast, versus the number recorded in the township's poll book, balanced perfectly when the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Regardless of humidity, Preston said those who turned out to vote Tuesday — either in person or via absentee ballot — can be assured their votes were counted.

Leelanau County's Board of Canvassers started the process to certify Tuesday's vote at 9 a.m. Thursday, according to a notice from the county.

State law gives these county canvassing boards no more than 14 days to complete that process.