Detroit election issues (surprise!) could prompt recount

Garlin Gilchrist II could seek a recount in Tuesday’s squeaker race for Detroit city clerk. He lost to incumbent Janice Winfrey by about 1,400 votes.

Another election, more questions about balloting in Detroit.

Detroit Clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist II told reporters on Wednesday that he’s mulling seeking a recount in his squeaker loss the day before to incumbent Janice Winfrey.

Gilchrist was up comfortably all night before a late-surge from absentee votes pushed Winfrey to prevail by about 1,400 votes (50-49 percent.)

Gilchrist said he’s heard “troubling accounts from voters about their experiences … that give us concern about the vote tallies.” Among them: Several residents who say they showed up to vote, but were told they already cast absentee ballots, while others say they received absentee ballots in the mail they didn’t request.

“We deserve transparency,” said Gilchrist, who worked for and is the city’s former director of new and emerging technology.

“The way the votes are counted need to be open and transparent for everyone to see.”

Daniel Baxter, the city’s elections director, learned of the allegations from Bridge and declined comment.

MORE COVERAGE: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wins big. Does he have a mandate?

Winfrey’s comeback win shocked even some of her supporters Tuesday night. Her campaign relied heavily on big turnout from absentee voters, but supporters gathered at City Elections Headquarters on East Grand Boulevard were practically conceding defeat as votes were counted about 9 p.m. Tuesday, saying she was far too behind to pull even. By 10, Winfrey had closed the gap.

Gilchrist said he’s investigating the complaints and will make a decision soon on a recount. By law, candidates can request a recount up to six days after the election is certified by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, a process that takes about two weeks.

The canvassers on Wednesday received about 90-95 percent of ballots and supporting materials from Detroit, which is an improvement over recent elections. In years past, particularly last November, Detroit was still delivering ballots and poll books to canvassers a week or more after balloting.

MORE COVERAGE: Botched elections. Missing ballots. Is this any way to run a democracy?

Tuesday’s election was the second to feature new voting machines in Detroit and other cities in Michigan that were supposed to fix a host of previous balloting problems, including last November’s national embarrassment, when more than half of Detroit’s precincts were ineligible to be recounted because the number of ballots in voting machines didn’t match those in poll books.

Bridge has written extensively about voting problems in Detroit and elsewhere.

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Thu, 11/09/2017 - 9:31am

Policies need revised on all voting regulations! Absentee ballots were mishandled in a variety of eats! Also again several polls had technical problems and one did not open at the 7 am time! Sorry that gilchrist did not win !

Kevin Grand
Thu, 11/09/2017 - 3:57pm

Fox, meet hen house.

I don't see Mr. Gilchrist having a snowball's chance with any recall (especially WITH his involvement with, given the ineptitude in Winfrey's office along with her childish Instagram post.

That meme said it all right there.

Even is Ruth Johnson started looking around and rattling some cages, what's done is done.

Sherry A Wells
Sun, 11/12/2017 - 9:50am

BUT the Board of Canvassers is NOT taking "about two weeks"--they scheduled a meeting for Monday at 2:00 at 1900 E Jefferson. BUT after the primary, they scheduled a meeting and then moved it up an hour or so to prevent at least one person they knew was coming from being in time. There has been a lawsuit filed about the Absentee Ballot Processing Board. I personally witnessed many irregularities there during the primary, but those two lawsuits were dismissed.