Thousands of votes tallied in W MI before recount halted

Kent County, presidential election, recount, Michigan
Workers in Kent County recount votes from the presidential election. (Dec. 7, 2016)


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — The federal judge who on Monday ordered Michigan to take a second look at votes from the presidential election reversed his decision Wednesday night, effectively halting the recount.

But the judge’s decision didn’t come down until just before 8 p.m., which meant much of the day was spent recounting thousands upon thousands of votes in West Michigan counties.

At the Wyoming Public Safety Building, dozens of election workers, challengers and supervisors on Tuesday and Wednesday took part in the recount of some 330,000 ballots cast in Kent County. By early Wednesday afternoon, recount teams had completed counts in 173 of the county’s 491 voting precincts.

Until mid-morning, the recount had been pretty uneventful. Just five specific ballots had been challenged. Then representatives of President-elect Donald Trump decided to issue challenges.

“They’re not challenging any findings on an individual ballot,” Kent County Clerk Mary Hollinrake explained. “They’re challenging the fact that we have proceeded to recount each precinct.”

Hollinrake said the move didn’t affect the count.

Cost concerns have been part of the discussion when it comes to the merits of the recount. Hollinrake told 24 Hour News 8 so far, the county has broken even, but she didn’t yet know what the final cost would be.

“The big cost is labor,” she said. “I don’t know how many people here are working either gratis, through their cities and townships, and how many I’m actually paying.”

Under the law, the candidate that requested the recount must reimburse county clerks $125 for every precinct counted in a recount. But if a judge orders a halt during the count, clerks are only reimbursed for the precincts already counted.

KALAMAZOO COUNTY

Kalamazoo County completed its recount around 9 p.m. Tuesday. County Clerk Tim Snow reported a slight shift in the numbers:

  • Donald Trump: 51,050 votes (+16)
  • Hillary Clinton: 67,230 (+82)
  • Gary Johnson: 5,644 (Same)
  • Jill Stein: 1,633 (-1)

MONTCALM COUNTY

Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard told 24 Hour News 8 late Wednesday afternoon that the recount in her county resulted in a few small changes:

  • Donald Trump: 16,920 (+13)
  • Hillary Clinton: 7,882 (+8)
  • Gary Johnson: 1,311 (-5)
  • Jill Stein: 291 (-1)

Millard said the differences were mostly due to people voting straight-party and then writing in the name of someone who wasn’t a valid candidate.

She also five precincts were not recountable: one of those because of a broken locking mechanism on a container, one because of a seal on a container was not fully engaged, and three because the physical ballot count was one off from the number of voters. She said she thought the latter was probably due to voters walking out with ballots.

However, she said the process went smoothly.

“I’m very disappointed that we were not 100% recountable, but we did learn some valuable things to carry over into our future elections,” she wrote in an email to 24 Hour News 8.

Elsewhere, a court hearing will be held Friday on a possible recount in Pennsylvania. A recount in Wisconsin so far shows Trump gaining votes over Clinton.

–The Associated Press and 24 Hour News 8 web staff contributed to this report.