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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And The Beat Goes On: Is Detroit's Primary Recount Impacted By Posting Ballots On Facebook

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A Story of An Primary Election That Has Yet To End

In Detroit, Michigan a complete recount of Tuesday, August 6, 2013 Primary Election is taken place. The process officially began on Tuesday, September 10th. One month three and days after City of Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey declared former Write-In Candidate Mike Duggan along with several contenders in City Council races, the winners. 

All the Candidates who won August 6th primary will face a run-off general election in Detroit on November 5, 2013. The process of deciding whom actually won what during Detroit Primary should have worked like a well oiled machine.

But like magician making a dove disappear then reappear, vote totals after Detroit's Primary election have done the same, since the first Tuesday of August 2013.

Seven candidates including former Mayoral challenger Tom Barrow challenged if an estimated 95K votes cast August 6th were counted in a fair and accurate matter. Barrow has good reason to believe disappear/reappear magic votes could occur while tabulating Detroit residents votes.

In 2009 while running against current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, upwards to 60,000 votes literally disappeared in thin air.

Okay the thin air reference might be taken it a bit far. Yet, for Barrow behalf 60K votes were unable to be counted as seals on the cases protecting integrity of votes cast were broken. 

Michigan Election Law states if seals are broken on cases where votes are stored prior to the canvassing process, the votes are tainted and non-certifiable.So, Barrow plus six other candidates want to ensure every single vote cast by a City of Detroit resident is properly counted this time round.

It's Recount Time In Detroit -- Almost

Together, the seven candidates raised thousands of dollars each for Wayne County Board of Canvassers could conduct a recount. With donated funds on the line, each candidate have a vested, financial and legal interest to ensure each vote is rightfully counted for whomever the voter intended it to be.

Before a rightfully recount could take place, Wayne County and upon request the State Board of Canvassers by law had to certify votes from the primary election. Ironically, more questions about the integrity of August 6th totals grew after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and Board of Canvassers refused to certify vote.

Hash-tags versus numeration marks was the open dispute between Clerk Garrett and Clerk Winfrey offices.

Clerk Winfrey tally workers used hash-tags to count Candidate Mike Duggan's write-in ballots. Clerk Garrett's and Wayne County Board of Canvassers wondered why so, as only Wayne County Board of Canvassers should have used hash-tags to count votes.

Magical Votes Appear and Disappear During Detroit's Primary Canvass

Meanwhile, State Election Law was unclear on which office should have used what methodology. Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon who won second place during Tuesday, August 6th primary, suddenly gained upwards of 18-20K votes.

That was until....Christopher Thomas, the Michigan Secretary of Elections was called to 'save the day'.

As the Chief authority on what State Election Law means when statues are unclear, Thomas and his State Board of Canvassers would have the final word. That's until a recount of all votes cast August 6th could take place.

After Thomas' Canvassers completed the task at hand, Sheriff Napoleon lost 18-20K votes. Write-in candidate and former first place Mayoral winner during August 6th primary, Mike Duggan gained 4000 magical votes.

With all of this drama, what happened to the seven candidates request for a total recount?

Let's jump forward one virtual week to Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Wayne County Board of Canvassers are back yet again, counting votes cast during Detroit's August 6th primary election.
The difference: this time the Canvassers job would include counting all the votes cast, not just votes in dispute for former Write-In Candidate Mike Duggan.

Yet, as the World Turns or in this case the Primary Election Lives On the entire process of may be in pearl, again.

Another Hiccup, as Social Media Spreads Votes Cast During Detroit Primary

Local Radio Host and Detroit School Board Member, Jonathan Kinloch decided to perform a bit of investigate journalism of his own, we assume. Kinloch on his Facebook Page decided to post pictures ballots cast during Detroit's August 6th primary, while Wayne County Board of Canvassers conducts the recount.

Photo Credit - Anonymous Resource

This was not a good idea at all if Kinloch is a City of Detroit voter. The Radio Host could not be legality complied to answer whom he might have voted for during August 6th Primary.

But what if a voter cast a ballot for Write-In Candidate Mike Duggan on August 6th. Next, the resident took a photo of their marked ballot. Afterwards, the Detroit Resident decided to post a picture on Facebook of their ballot.

If all of the above is true, the voter could be in violation of MCL section 168.738, Act 116 of 1954 of Michigan Election Law.

Act 116 of 1954
168.738 Voting; ballots; folding; deposit in ballot box; rejection for exposure.--- Sec. 738.
(1) Before leaving the booth or voting compartment, the elector shall fold his or her ballot or each of the ballots so that no part of the face shall be exposed, and with the detachable corner on the outside. Upon leaving the booth, the elector shall at once deliver in public view the ballot or ballots to the inspector designated to receive the ballot or ballots. Except as provided in subsection (2), the inspector shall tear off the corner of the ballot, where perforated, containing the number and shall then in the presence of the elector and the board of inspectors deposit each ballot in the proper ballot box without opening the ballot.
(2) If an elector shows his or her ballot or any part of the ballot to any person other than a person lawfully assisting him or her in the preparation of the ballot or a minor child accompanying that elector in the booth or voting compartment under section 736a, after the ballot has been marked, to disclose any part of the face of the ballot, the ballot shall not be deposited in the ballot box, but shall be marked “rejected for exposure”, and shall be disposed of as are other rejected ballots. If an elector exposes his or her ballot, a note of the occurrence shall be entered on the poll list opposite his or her name and the elector shall not be allowed to vote at the election.
History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955 ;-- Am. 1996, Act 213, Imd. Eff. May 28, 1996
Popular Name: Election Code
Some will argue the location where a recount is conducted is not a polling location. Well, this question should be determined by election authorities.

Michigan State Election Law cites if a recount results changes to vote totals or not, the process of rectification begins all over again with Wayne County's Board of Canvassers, similar to what occurs after an election.

Act 116 of 1954
168.876 Recount; returns by board of canvassers, withdrawal of petition; final report open to public inspection. Sec. 876.
The returns made by the said board of canvassers upon recount shall be deemed to be correct, anything in the previous returns from such city, township, ward or precinct to the contrary Notwithstanding: Provided, however, That if the person petitioning for such recount shall withdraw his petition or discontinue the recount before the completion thereof, then in such event the original return shall be deemed to be correct regardless of any change shown by the recount at the time of the withdrawal of the petition or the discontinuance of such recount: Provided further, That the final report on the results of any recount shall be open to public inspection immediately following its certification by the board of canvassers.
History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955
Popular Name: Election Code
Furthermore, any one of the seven candidates, attorney's of the candidates, challengers or watchers during an official recount can observe ballots and take written notes of what was seen. The key: Written notes does amount to snapping pictures or taking video shots of ballots, then posting the information on social media sites.
Act 116 of 1954

168.874 Recount; return of ballots; manner of counting votes. --- 
Sec. 874.
(3) The candidates or persons interested in the ballot question, their counsel, watchers, and talliers shall be allowed to observe each ballot as it is called and to take notes as they desire for their own records. The board of canvassers shall identify by an exhibit number a ballot counted or rejected under protest, keep a record of the protest, and proceed as required under section 871a.History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955 ;-- Am. 1995, Act 261, Eff. Mar. 28, 1996 Popular Name: Election Code
Michigan Election Law on how to conduct a proper recount on the State and County level is fairly extensive. One would easily assume Legislators drafting Act 115 of 1954 and Governor G. Mennen Williams (D) intended for Michigan Recounts to be performed in a serious manner. Also, it can be determined Michigan Recounts take place under tight procedural measures, as the initial tally of election votes cast. 

If true, taking photos or videos of ballots should not be allowed during any Michigan Recount. Detroit Primary Election has had so many twists and turns City voters could drive on G
ermany's Autobahn easier than determining who possibly did what to disenfranchise the vote.

Regardless, the beat plays on and it appears this 
controversial chapter in Detroit's history will never end. 

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