Category Archives: elections

Absentee Ballot Applications Errant

I just got my absentee ballot to vote in the August Primary as did my neighbor. It was addressed correctly enough for me but the application was to vote in Saline, Michigan and the return address would have sent it to that far eastern city.
I called Mr. Dan Kasunic, our city clerk. He is just now realizing that some one else’s applications must have been mixed in with ours, possibly at the printer.
Something similar happened last year when 57 applications lacked a return address. I was one of lucky recipients of that fiasco.
He will send a correct application to me and my neighbor.
Screw ups at City Hall seem to be predictable and not random.

The Parks Commission Envisions, and Politicians Out Themselves Acquiescing to a Tax Increase.

 

The Parks Commission is a favorite of Commissioner Coughlin and he arranged for that commission to address our early February meeting. Three Parks Commissioners based their presenttion on the statistically flawed and self serving Parks study which cost the taxpayers 50K three or four years ago. Ignoring its weak foundations, the Park commissioner recommended a 1 mil tax increase (about 10% of our property taxes) to fund new acquisitions and buildings proposed in that document, stuff like buying up land, putting up a new activities building and several swimming pools.

Several City Commissioners commented. Commissioner Redmond was enthusiastically supportive, noting that he’d just been elected and would not need to run for another 4 years. Commissioner Coughlin who had arranged for the presentation beamed his approval and lamented letting the previous Parks millage lapse 3 years ago. Our mayor noted that he was not in favor of building pools and that tax increase would have to go before the voters. That referendum would not be possible this year, 2017 was an election year (Did he want to run?) but that it would be great in 2018.

I noted that Grand Rapids had at least 3 pools that they could not afford to open. (I didn’t say anything, but we had also just spent over 80 K on a refurbishing the basketball court and on waterproofing the cement underlying the existing activities building after a natural spring was discovered in the middle of the very expensive new court flooring. I had asked about plans for planning a new activities center when replacing the gym floor was first proposed, and had been assured that there were no plans to replace that building. Truth telling in  City Hall is trivial.)

I only document this episode because I see that the proposed minutes of that meeting did not include much of what transpired. I’ll try to correct the record this Tuesday and expect to be rebuffed and lied to again. But this account should interest some candidates in this summer’s primary elections, and again next year when some might seek re-election.

Reflections on Voting, Turnout, the Postoffice Redux?

I’m here in a small B and  B, “without the breakfast,” on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Temperatures about 70, some clouds, gentle breezes, no cares but passively awaiting election returns. So far I’ve seen that our Kentwood city clerk is quoted in the local pulp as opining that turnout is puny, and I’ve heard estimates of 10% for our August primary.

Our hosts, Joe and Joy are politically active and are also awaiting for returns from the county’s primaries, but they will have to wait a few days. Also, their “turnout” is over 60%. It seems that they do only mail in balloting. The election pubbahs drop the forms with the ballots addressed to each registered voter, into the mailbox on a certain day.(Candidates try to get their mailers out to coincide and sway the voters with their wiles.) Voters fill them out, apply stamps and drop them into the mail, postmarked before today.  The election board tabulates the results in secret while leisurely waiting for the mail to arrive, and then announces the results by a certain date. Pretty slick.

I wonder if we could not try this in Kentwood. The methods of doing elections is probably set by state law, but it might be possible to get special permission on a trial basis. It probably would save us money, increase voter participation, and make candidates pay attention to the broader concerns of Kentwood residents. The same concerns with voter fraud and unlabeled return envelopes do not change.

An Irregularity in Absentee Balloting;

I routinely do absentee, so got, and promptly returned my ballot with the mass mailing several weeks ago.

My wife, Kris, realizing that we’d be out of town for the 4 Aug elections, called for and got her absentee ballot last week, and promptly filled it out. She was walking over to the Preferred Credit Union and dropped the ballot into a Grand Rapids mailbox.

We got the envelope back a few days later, “returned.” After much puzzling, we intuited that the return envelope, (attachment) did not have the expected city clerk’s address. This would seem to me to be a serious flaw in what one would expect, namely that an enclosed return envelope would be labelled, a glitch that scarcely any of us absentees would detect.

absenteeballot,haasfront

haasabsenteeballot back

Accordingly:

1) what should we do to transmit Kris’ messed up absentee ballot to the clerk’s office? physically bring it over? Try to use the current envelope? Put it into a manilla envelope and send it over?

2) If her’s lacked a return, did mine, or any/many of the mass mailings done several weeks ago also lack a return address and now languish in some limbo in the post office, “waiting for Godot”?

3) I assume that this will be cited as a one time slip up in the clerk’s office; that someone reached into the box of envelopes and pulled one one that hadn’t yet been stamped with the return address. The envelopes are probably a standard purchase item made available to all local governmental units, but should the clerk not stamp all the envelopes on receipt instead of risking sending out ones that could cause problems?

4) We were still at home when the envelope returned, but many others might be in a long vacation (and in the fall, scads of regular voters decamp to home in Florida for the winter) and not see their ballots until long after the election has been declared.

5) Do all envelopes have the sticky label on like Kris’ had on hers which would serve as a return address?

These, and so many other questions that really smart folks will raise, await resolution.