Michigan Recount Results Day 1: Problems Found in Clinton Strongholds

michigan recount

A recount of ballots cast in Oakland County, Michigan from the 2016 US presidential race is seen at the Oakland County Schools building on December 5, 2016 in Waterford, Michigan. (Getty)

The Michigan recount finished its first day, and there were already reports that half of Detroit’s votes might not be recounted, as well as other problems with ballots.

The reason so many Detroit ballots could get left out of the recount: The number of ballots listed in poll books is not the same as the totals given on machine printouts.

The recount, though, is now in jeopardy. On day 2, December 6, a state appeals court ruled that Green Party candidate Jill Stein did not meet the standard of “aggrieved party” necessary to force a recount; however, a federal appeals court refused to block a federal judge’s order that the recount commence immediately. A hearing was underway on December 7 before the latter judge, who was expected to decide whether the recount would now cease completely. You can read more about that here.

Clinton rang up huge margins in Wayne County, home to populous Detroit, and she would likely need her margin there to grow in order to shrink Trump’s 10,704 vote margin in Michigan. Clinton received 66 percent of the Wayne County vote on November 8.

The news of the Detroit problems broke in the Detroit News on December 5 as two Michigan counties started recounting ballots from the 2016 presidential election. The newspaper reported that “one-third of precincts in Wayne County could be disqualified” from the recount because of ballot problems. According to the newspaper, officials “couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts” during last month’s countywide canvass of Election Day returns, adding that most are in Clinton stronghold Detroit, “where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662.”

The Detroit Free Press quoted an expert who questioned the Michigan recount law, which varies from other states in that, if there is a discrepancy between the number of ballots and those listed in poll books, a recount can not be done in that precinct, and original results stand if the “difference is not explained to the satisfaction of the board of canvassers.” This happened on day 1 of the Michigan recount, when a Rochester Hills precinct could not be recounted because of a missing ballot, said the newspaper.

This led filmmaker Michael Moore to tweet, “Michigan recount already screwed up, ballots missing.”

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office told Heavy it will likely start posting some recount results starting November 7. Two counties started recounting votes December 5. The Clerk of Courts for one of them, Oakland County, provided Heavy with these unofficial results as of December 6 (the second county has not yet done so, despite a request):

The Free Press said that the canvassing process that found the Detroit mismatches often involved just comparing poll books to machine printouts, not ballots, so the results might change as ballots are now hand counted. If they still mismatch, though, the precincts can not be officially recounted.

In Michigan, on day 1, there were also problems in other Democratic leaning areas, said The Detroit News, such as in Genesee County, home to Flint, where “at least 13 of 222 precincts in Genesee County are not balanced” and in Ingham County, where, “six of 30 precincts from Lansing could not be recounted” because of a hole in a ballot container.

michigan recount

A scene from the Michigan recount. (Getty)

You can read the applicable passage of the Michigan recount law here. State law says ballots can not be recounted with such problems, but the original tallies would then stand.

The Detroit development comes as the Wisconsin recount, into its fifth day, isn’t changing the Trump victory margin there much. In fact, Donald Trump has extended his lead by a couple dozen votes (Green Party nominee Jill Stein is suing in Pennsylvania to try to force a recount there). Clinton would need to flip all three states to win the Electoral College.

The Guardian said that, in Michigan, “Eighty-seven of Wayne County’s decade-old voting machines broke on election day.” It’s possible the election machines might have counted jammed ballots more than once, said The Guardian.

The County is hoping that a hand count of ballots will clear up discrepancies, said the news site.

As noted, only two Michigan counties started recounting ballots on December 5, the first day of the recount. The rest of the county recounts are staggered throughout the week:

The Electoral College meets on December 19. The Michigan recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and a federal judge ordered the hand recount to commence; the Republican Party on December 5 appealed that ruling and is seeking to stop the recount; a court will hear oral arguments on December 6. Michigan would need to recount 4.8 million ballots by hand.

You can read Stein’s Michigan recount petition here:

Read more about the Wisconsin recount results here: