The Nov. 3 general election, like every election before, has generated strong feelings.
We are the members of the Grand Traverse County Board of Canvassers and it is our job to ensure that the local results of this election accurately reflect the voting public.
The four members of The Board of Canvassers are appointed by the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners. There are two members each representing the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. We were observed daily by the League of Women Voters and occasionally by representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Our canvass finished Thursday, Nov. 12 — after five days of review of both in-person voting and mail-in votes and there are several points for your consideration.
First, several hundred county clerks and poll workers worked tirelessly to support this election and we sincerely respect their work. While we are independent of the County Clerk’s office, we rely on and appreciate their advice and assistance in fulfilling our responsibilities.
Second, our work is done in pairs. The audits, the identification of issues and the resolution of those issues is never the result of one canvasser or one party. We check each other’s work, discuss issues, challenge each other and resolve concerns that, in every case in this election, were agreed upon by all four canvassers.
Third, we ensure that established rules and processes to conduct a fair election are followed and that there is an audit trail. We sometimes referred to our role as “preserving the chain of evidence.” When there are issues we work directly with the county clerks to resolve and document the issue and the resolution. The county clerks are “on call” following the election and, when asked, come to our meeting room to explain and resolve any concerns.
Fourth, our county has roughly 81,000 registered voters and approximately 75 percent voted in at least one election contest. The total number of individual votes cast across our county was impressively large, with over 500,000 votes cast for national, state and local candidates and initiatives.
Fifth, and this is the big one, the number of significant issues was very small — maybe three individual ballots.
There are human errors. We correct them. Where we had questions, they were asked and answered. There are improvements that can be made and we discuss these and provide our feedback. There were no situations where we thought the process was compromised, subverted, or manipulated to a desired outcome.
The results of this election will not satisfy everyone — each of us had candidates who lost. Each of us had candidates who won. We did not celebrate individual victories. We celebrated the process. The voters address the policy issues. Our responsibility is to ensure that the process is fair and conducted with integrity. The vote in Grand Traverse County was conducted fairly and with integrity.
With respect for the candidates and for the electorate of Grand Traverse County, we are the Grand Traverse County Board of Canvassers.
About the authors: Sandra Call, Karen Goodrich, Steve Horne and Elizabeth Whelan are members of the Grand Traverse County Board of Canvassers.