September 24, 2017

Edwards Township ballots deemed not recountable

Final election results stand

Posted

EDWARDS TWP. — The election results from the Nov. 8 general election in Edwards Township will stand as the board of canvassers has determined the precinct to be not recountable.

The determination was made due to a discrepancy with a seal number not being recorded in the poll book according to information obtained through Ogemaw County Clerk Gary Klacking. 

The election results stand with Brent Illig and Dave Ross winning the two trustee seats with 418 and 335 votes respectively. Rose White, who filed for the recount, had 311 votes, and Bryan Stein had 268 votes. 

“I was disappointed for one thing,” White told the Herald Monday. “For a clerk to say in the previous edition (of the Herald) right after the election that he was confident in what his crew can do, and then they make five errors, it’s really kind of sad.”

Despite White referencing five errors, the official determination from the board of canvassers cites two: 1. A number on a ballot box seal not matching the number in the poll book and the spoiled ballots being stored in a separate container outside the ballot containers.

Related: View the official determination document from the board of canvassers

White told the Herald that Township Clerk Dennis Stephens has been “meticulous” in the past, and she called it weird that there was an error that prevented the recount. When asked whether she thought the error was intentional, she didn’t fully commit to an answer. 

“I don’t know,” White said. “I guess that’s anybody’s opinion. It just seems fishy to me. He was there at the end of (election night). He should have caught those himself. He is a meticulous person.”

Stephens told the Herald Monday that he didn’t feel the errors were enough to prevent a recount. 

“I do not agree with the decision of the board of canvassers to call the precinct unrecountable,” Stephens said. 

He described the error that occurred, saying the required metal seals were placed on each of the two ballot boxes, four seals in all. He said on the first box, the ID tag was properly placed with one of the metal seals, but on the second box, when the second seal was locked into place, he discovered they forgot to put the tag on the container. 

“I said, rather than cut that one and scratch (the seal number) out on the book, let’s attach the tag to the second one so we don’t have to cut the metal seal,” Stephens said. 

But when he looked at it, he realized that they didn’t quite put the tag through the lid on the container. 

“I said how about if we take that off and put another one in there and this time run the plastic pull-tight through the lid the same as the horseshoe (metal seal) is,” Stephens told the Herald. 

But when that was done, the new ID tag wasn’t recorded in the poll book. 

“Because the ID tag didn’t match, the board of canvassers decided the other four seals didn’t mean anything, and everything hinged on this very tiny clerical error on this tag seal,” Stephens said. “They decided the precinct was not recountable.”

“I disagreed strongly,” Stephens said. “I still do. I’m not sure who their bosses are. I don’t think they did right as well.”

Any implication that the error was made intentionally Stephens called a “lie.”

“That accusation is totally out of line,” he said. “I wanted the recount worse than anybody else in the county. Because of the politically charged atmosphere, it was a greater importance than a minor clerical error that could easily have happened to anyone, on a seal that is not important in terms of holding a lid down. If a tag gets torn off your shirt, it’s still your shirt.”

Stephens said he believes concerns from White stem from a misunderstanding of the ballot summary. He said before the most recent township meeting, White had paperwork from the election, and she showed it to him. 

“I said, ‘What numbers do you have for the count of the votes?’” Stephens said. “She said she had 786.”

But he said that was incorrect, because 771 people voted in the township. 

“That’s how many actual votes were cast in Edwards Township,” he said. 

Stephens said he believes the discrepancy comes from spoiled ballots. He said spoiled ballots on election night would be in the ballot summary, but those from prior to election night — absentee ballots — would not be. 

“I’m pretty sure she has the impression there are a bunch of missing votes, and it’s because she does not understand how a ballot summary works,” Stephens said. “She has never come to me directly and asked for clarification on why her numbers differ from the official count. I’d be glad to explain to her why I think they’re off.” 

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3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
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Steve

If you can not recount the ballots does that mean that the election is void?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 | Report this
Eric Young

No, it means the original results stand.

Monday, December 26, 2016 | Report this
Eric Young

No, it means the original results stand.

Monday, December 26, 2016 | Report this

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