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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Election 2013: The Unknown Absentee Voters.

In probability we will never know who the absentees voters of 2013 were, or what issue or candidates motivated them in selecting commission candidates or voting yea or nay on four ballot  propositions. On the Oakland County Elections web site there is a table a  called "Vote Type summary" According to the numbers on the table no in the City of Bloomfield Hills  as indicated by a column of zeros voted absentee. In reality exactly the opposite happened.  The Precinct vote was less than a third of the absentee vote which was by far and away was the dominant decider of the election.

 The Absentee Ballot Hole.

If the reader is interested in delving into the arcane world of local elections, this writer would suggest one truism. When whenever contrary presents itself the culprit more often than not the smallest denomination of Government. The State of Michigan is really quite fine and has been a long time advocate of dispensing information to it's citizens. Likewise  Oakland County Elections  strives to be helpful to candidates and voters alike.
So when the particulars of the absentee vote  are unavailable one need not look any further than the City of Bloomfield Hills City Hall at 45 East Long Lake. The County publishes what the City provides.  In the case of candidates or the ballot propositions of the November 5th election the number was zero.

So we asked City Clerk. Amy Burton why. She said that was because the absentee ballots were counted in their respective precinct as  precinct votes rather than absentee votes. Below  are the pure absentee vote totals which we believe has not been published anywhere else. Once the the Absentee votes went in with precinct vote the actual vote count didn't change but it became impossible to determine for whom or for what the absentee votes (AV)  were cast.

Combining the votes is how The City  counted ballots in spring City election of 2010. That is how small communities  like the Village of Clarkson count ballots. The City of Bloomfield Hills is a small community but it has reputation a far bigger than it's actual size. 

 In 2010 the absentee voter was just becominga factor  in local elections. After the 2010 City election, in the next four elections (two millage and two City elections) absentee votes were counted in what is called and AV counting room. That separates the AV count from the precinct vote. In the City of Bloomfield Hills candidates in recent elections had vote totals from Precinct 1 (City Hall), Precinct 2 (Congregational Church) and absentee votes which in  essence becomes a de facto third precinct.

You may ask why is important to have a separate absentee and in precinct vote total and there are many reasons. The AV vote has grown enormously in recent years and has spawned related alternatives such as

  •  "No doc" absentee voting (which unlike Michigan) does not require  the signing of an affidavit, certifying  under the penalty of purgery, a valid condition for casting a an absentee vote.
  •  Early voting (AV voting without the precincts) which is how Ohio votes.
One could argue that in terms of long term consequences,  how one voted in the City election of 2013 is more significant, than the short terms consequence of who they voted for.
To that end the State of Michigan in 2014 will begin mandating AV counting rooms for precincts in communities of certain size.

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