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Futile recount effort to move forward in some Michigan precincts

person dropping absentee ballot into ballot box
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A recount of ballots cast in a select number of precincts across Michigan in 2022 will go forward with a reluctant go-ahead from a state elections board.

That’s despite the fact that the recount has no chance of reversing voter approval of two proposals that added abortion-rights and voting-rights amendments to the Michigan Constitution.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats and every decision requires bipartisan approval.

There was bipartisan agreement that the recounts would be futile in terms of changing the results and a waste of time on the part of the local election officials who would have to manage the process. There was also bipartisan agreement that, under state law, the challengers are entitled to recounts – despite the fact that the elections weren’t close – as long as they’re willing to pay for it. Which they are.

It’s not clear exactly what the cost will be. But the fees paid will almost certainly not cover all the expenses incurred by counties.

Republican Tony Daunt, the board chair, said he is angry and frustrated.

“There are people who are not operating in good faith who are seeking to use this as a way to open up things that have already been completed and muddy the waters and that’s dangerous,” he said. “It’s pointless and I think we need to find a way to ultimately fix that.”

A yelling match erupted when Daunt complained, “This is a fishing expedition.”

“That is a pre-judgement, sir, and I find that offensive,” shouted Daniel Hartman, an attorney working with a group that’s tried to use baseless claims to undermine faith that the 2020 election was fair.

Hartman also called on Daunt to abstain from voting on the question. Daunt threatened to have Hartman removed if he didn’t stop interrupting the proceedings.

The board’s approval requires the recounts to be supervised by the Michigan Bureau of Elections. It also stipulates that they not be allowed to veer into new investigations of how elections were conducted.

“There will be representatives of the state board at all of the county canvassing boards and they will follow the directions that we have given them,” said Democratic board member Mary Ellen Gurewitz. “They are not going to engage in an investigation of the purported fraud that these people fantasize about.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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