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Canvassers uphold decision in Plymouth Township recount  (MI)

Lester L. Holmes, Jr.   The Journal Newspapers   06 September 2008

Plymouth Township Clerk candidate Joe Bridgman is still on the November ballot.

The Wayne County Election Board of Canvassers ruled during a public hearing on Friday that Bridgman defeated Mary Ann Prchlik by a 1,885 to 1,727 margin in the disputed August Republican Primary election.

Prchlik requested the recount, which was conducted by more than a dozen Wayne County election officials. She claimed there were errors in the recording and transferring of votes from machines to poll books that may have cost her the election. The ballot recount was conducted at Plymouth Township Hall.

While the official number of votes tabulated during the recount are different than the 1, 920 to 1, 170 votes totals announced immediately after the Aug. 5 election, the difference of votes was not enough to declare Prchlik the winner.

“This recount affirms the Plymouth Township runs very efficient elections,” said Bridgman, who is currently the deputy clerk of the township. He said the results solidify the competence and reputation of Township Clerk Marilyn Massengill who has taken some heat from the Prchlik campaign over the election results.

“This proves that (she) is top notch in running elections,” Bridgman added.

Massengill said the discrepancies between the Aug 5. totals and numbers calculated by Wayne County elections officials is typical of any challenged elections as “smears and marks” on the ballot may skew the voting machines results. Election officials must recount ballots by hand during recounts.

While refusing to divulge their next course of action the Prchlik campaign voiced their displeasure over more than 1, 670 votes being left out of the recount.

Two precincts within the township had a one-vote discrepancy in the number of ballots cast versus the number of voters logged by township election officials. Under state law, recount officials are forced to accept the results of the Aug. 5 election in those precincts and add it to the recounted votes.

The only exceptions allowed, according to Cynthia Hawthorne, deputy director of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, are if a “reasonable explanation” is recorded in the voting log to explain the discrepancy or if county canvassers suspected election fraud.
Officials said two missing votes out of more than 3,600 did not meet the standard of fraud.

“The numbers did not match therefore we could not count the precincts,” said Hawthorne.

Massengill, to no avail, contacted Lansing officials to see if anything can be done to count the votes said she is upset that the two precincts were not counted. She added that the missing ballots is a product of human error—not fraud— and is something commonly discovered during recounts.

“Sorry we couldn’t count the two precincts. I really wanted them counted. This is state law, it’s time to change the law,” she said.

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