Jan. 21—TRAVERSE CITY — As Michigan primaries inch closer, local clerks are getting ready for the upcoming election cycle.
For Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette, the November 2023 election served as a good test as to how well he and his staff are prepared for what's ahead.
Marentette has some basis for confidence in his team.
On Dec. 22, 2023, the city clerk's office received extensive scrutiny after the Michigan Department of State randomly selected them for an audit of election equipment and conduct of the city during the November 2023 election.
That audit involved analysis and examination of documents and procedures that were used by Marentette's team leading up to the 2023 election. It included the procedures and documentation from the city's Precinct 9, which also was randomly selected, as well as the absent voter counting board for Precinct 9. The polling location for that precinct is at the Northwestern Michigan College Health & Science Building, 1705 E. Front St.
The independent audit, carried out in compliance with Department of State regulations, also encompassed a hand count of the vote totals in a randomly-chosen contest and verified 100% alignment with the reported results.
"Our team's primary focus centers on reinforcing voter confidence in Michigan's entire electoral framework," Marentette said in a news release. "The significance of conducting random audits, like the one undertaken, cannot be overstated in ensuring the integrity of every vote. The implementation of post-election audits stands as yet another essential step in fortifying our electoral processes."
That perfect score and success rate mean a lot to them, he said, adding, "On Election Day, nearly 60 dedicated individuals facilitated democracy across all precincts.
"The leadership demonstrated by the precinct chairperson in Precinct 9 and the chairperson overseeing the Absentee Voting Counting Board was exceptional. We extend our sincere appreciation to these community members whose reverence for our democratic process is commendable."
Marentette also pointed to the "unwavering efforts of both the permanent and interim teams in the City Clerk's Office in the lead-up to Election Day."
Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele said this outstanding performance on the state's audit reflects the good work of election administrators here.
"The community should be proud of the tireless efforts that so many do to safeguard the integrity of elections in this community," Scheele said.