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Precincts left out of recount “not necessarily” proof of voter fraud

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Livengood said when precincts' numbers are off, they're usually off by one ballot. At most, they're off by five.

The vote recount continues in Michigan, even as State Attorney General Bill Schuette and the campaign of president-elect Trump keep pushing forth with challenges to that recount.

Recounting began Monday in Oakland and Ingham Counties. Wayne County began today.

And there's a growing awareness of technical problems, coupled with possible human error, adding up to precincts that cannot be recounted under Michigan law.

Chad Livengood of The Detroit News has been reporting on the recount issues. He joined Stateside to discuss.

“There’s a lot of procedures you have to go through before you can actually recount a box of ballots, basically, from an individual precinct,” he said. “And these procedures want to make sure that there’s never been any tampering with these ballot boxes.”

From Election Day on, ballots remain locked up. They’re held in suitcase-like boxes, he said, and there’s a zip-tie seal attached. That seal shows the number of ballots contained inside.

That number must match the number in the poll book – the book workers record ballots in on Election Day.

If numbers don’t match, yet an explanation for the discrepancy is recorded, the recount can move forward.

“But when there’s not an explanation and they can’t reconcile it by just manually counting the ballots to see if they add up, then that precinct gets set aside and is not recounted,” Livengood said. “Now, it still counts in the final tally of numbers, but it has to be the tally on election night, not the recount.”

Some say the precincts left out of the recount are proof of voter fraud, but Livengood said not so fast.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “It could be proof of human error and it certainly could be proof of exhausted election workers trying to reconcile votes at eleven o’clock at night or midnight after a 14-hour day at the polls. That’s how some of the proponents of this recount are trying to use it – to try to have a good autopsy of just how exactly we account for balloting in this state.”

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