Unexplained discrepancies could stymie recount in hundreds of Michigan precincts

Unexplained discrepancies could stymie recount in hundreds of Michigan precincts

Discrepancies between the number of votes counted in the computerized poll book and those contained in the ballot box are creating problems in Michigan's recount effort, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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If the numbers don't match, the precinct can't be recounted, unless there is a valid explanation and the original results would stand.

This is raising some concerns about the accuracy of Michigan's vote. 

The Free Press reported Tuesday that in a precinct in Rochester Hills, the computerized book listed 848 names, but the ballot box had only 847 ballots. The poll workers didn't have an explanation for the discrepancy.

"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."

In Wayne County, as many as one-third of precincts might not be recounted.

The problem has been popping up in precincts in several counties, according to the publication.
 
Keenan Pontoni, state coordinator for Recount Michigan, said the state is seeing the issue in "several instances."
 
“We think that any instance where ballots are not being counted compromises the process," she told the Free Press.

“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 Jill Stein effort. “These are the kinds of issues discovered during a recount that can then be fixed in future elections.”

During the actual recount, though, the numbers could change. The canvass compares the poll book to the machine printout, but a recount actually involves reviewing the ballots themselves.

Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said there are several reasons for a discrepancy in the vote total during the canvass.

“Sometimes someone could have a spoiled ballot, but then they don’t revote. They get frustrated and then they leave. That would not be a matchup,” Haroutunian said. “Some people walk into the polling place and don’t vote. I’m not saying it happens in a large scale, but it can happen.”

A spokesman for Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh said it's "not unusual in a recount of this size to have some precincts that aren't countable."