President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by a slim margin of 10,704 votes, and the judge ordered recount of 4.8 million ballots in the state is already off to a rocky start.
The Detroit News reported early Tuesday morning that half of Detroit votes may be ineligible for a recount because under Michigan law, a precinct can’t be recounted if the poll book and ballot box numbers don’t match. If the poll book lists one additional vote that is not in the ballot box, the results from the original election night tally stand.
According to the Detroit Free Press, this happened in Rochester Hills precinct 11 where the computerized boll book listed 848 voters who cast ballots there, but the ballot box only contained 847 votes.
“It didn’t match on the canvass and it doesn’t match now,” said Joe Rozell, Oakland County’s director of elections. “This precinct is not recountable.”
A report from the Detroit Free Press shows just how problematic this will be for the recount in Michigan:
In Wayne County, about one-third of precincts showed discrepancies during the November canvass, said Krista Haroutunian, chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Those discrepancies could make those precincts — 610, including 392 in Detroit — ineligible for recount, though a final decision has yet to be made.
The problems raise questions about the overall accuracy of Michigan’s vote, said Keenan Pontoni, state coordinator for Recount Michigan, the effort of Green Party candidate Jill Stein to recount Michigan’s 4.8 million ballots, which produced a 10,704 vote victory for Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race.
“We’re seeing this issue in several instances of precincts being deemed not-recountable because the numbers don’t match,” Pontoni said. “We think that any instance where ballots are not being counted compromises the process.”
“This is an example of why we need to conduct a recount in the first place and verify the vote,” said Margy Levinson, spokesperson for the Stein effort. “These are the kinds of issues discovered during a recount that can then be fixed in future elections.”
Mark Grebner, a longtime political consultant who’s studied Michigan elections for decades, said Michigan differs from other states when it comes to recount procedures.
“Michigan law is stupid on this point,” Grebner said. “It makes no sense, and it should be fixed. Other states don’t do this.”
Grebner said that the mismatch between the number of ballots in a box and the number in the poll book are most likely the sign of human error on the part of poll workers, who are supposed to reconcile the numbers before closing the precinct for the night. But that often happens after midnight, and poll workers have been on the job since dawn.
Below, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum explains how entire voting precincts may be non-recountable in the presidential election recount:
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