Voter turnout higher than usual for special election

ALPENA – Almost a quarter of the registered voters in Alpena County, Montmorency County and Alcona County visited the polls on Tuesday to vote in a special election. Although there wasn’t a large number of items on the ballot the AMA ESD request for a 10-year millage for three mills was enough to get the voters out. The millage request was defeated by the voters in the three counties 7,433 to 2,502 and according to Alpena County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs said the turnout at the polls in the 29 precincts was large for a special election.

Friedrich said the final numbers show 20.25 percent of registered voters in the three counties took part in the election. She said that is significantly higher than elections not held in November. Friedrichs said the numbers in the city, where two Alpena Municipal Council seats were at stake were also very impressive.

“This is really high for a special election and the people really came out to vote on the issue. Normally we get about 15 percent for a special election,” Friedrichs said. “The city also had a very strong turnout and it appears everything went well in all three counties.”

In Alpena, Mike Nowak and Susan Nielsen prevailed in a five-man race to serve on the council. Friedrichs said in the city, District No. 1 and No. 2 had a 15.2 percent voter turnout, District No. 3 had 24.1, Districts No. 5 had 33.46 and District No. 6 had 30.3. The high turnout in the city for the election was expected because of the millage request, but also because the seats on the council were those vacated due to the recall of Mike Nunneley and Dave Karschnick in November.

Friedrichs said there were many different moving parts for the special election because of the multi-county millage proposal. She said precincts in Montmorency County forwarded there ballot results via computer to her office as did Alcona. She said the results were received quickly and everything seemed to be in place with the votes.

“This election was a little more involved and there were more moving pieces than what we do typically but everything went really well,” Friedrichs said. “I was concerned a little bit about getting the votes from so many places via a modem, but everything operated the way it was supposed to. We really didn’t even get many calls from the precincts with questions.”

The votes were presented to the Alpena County Board of Canvassers which is made up of two republicans and two democrats who were appointed to the board to review and certify the election results.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.