Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Partial findings of Prop 2, Prop 3 recounts take place in Allegan

By Gari Voss

Allegan County hosted the recount of Proposition 3 on Thursday, December 15, 2022 in the Griswold Auditorium basement. Election workers from Allegan, Barry, Berrien and Ottawa Counties gathered with their containers and piles of ballots to comply with the Michigan Board of Canvassers’ decision to honor the requests filed by Jerome Jay Allen of Oakland County and the Election Integrity Fund Force (EIFF) funded by the American Project in Florida. The requests required performing a partial recount of Proposition 2 that expanded voting rights and Proposition 3 that addressed women’s reproductive rights.
Most counties were required to recount both Prop 2 and Prop 3, but Allegan, Barry, Berrien and Ottawa were requested to recount only Prop 3.
The session began by examining ballot boxes, taking ballots and tabulator tapes from sealed containers, looking for problems with bags and seals then counting the ballots cast in each precinct selected. If an inconsistency was detected, a recount could not be performed on that precinct’s ballots. Of the 8 Allegan County precincts chosen for the partial recount, only one could not move forward.
Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski stated, “This precinct is extremely careful so it is unusual for errors to occur.”
The other precincts proceeded with workers carefully reviewing each ballot to determine the “intention of the voter” then placing that ballot in the YES, NO or OTHER pile. Once all ballots had been categorized, the piles of ballots were carefully counted into groups of 25 with one person handling the ballots and a second person watching to see that the counting was accurate.
After each stack was organized into groups of 25, a complete total was made. Counts could vary by one or two because visual examination may discover a voter’s mark that is not detected by a machine.
“It has been proven time and time again that the ballot counts are accurate,” stated Allegan County Board of Canvassers member Carolyn Ladenburger. “There may be a one or two count difference, but not enough to affect an election outcome.”
What concerned many involved in the process was that the partial count of Propositions 2 and 3 would not alter the results of the November 3, 2022 election. The purpose for filing the recount petitions was to scrutinize the election process that has been under criticism since the 2020 election.
Therefore, the floor was sprinkled with watchers from both sides of the issue. Each watching the proceedings and listening to conversations, especially if a question arose.
When all precincts completed the recount and presented their results to a representative from the State Board of Canvassers, a meeting was held with county Board of Canvassers representatives and some of the observers. The debriefing brought comments from those supporting the Proposals and those opposing.
Tim Beyer, an observer for the Election Integrity Fund Force (EIFF), had attended recount sessions in several parts of the state because of his concerns with the election process. He shared that some of his concerns had been dispelled while there were several parts of the process that still needed to be addressed.
“I have seen many people who are diligent in making sure the election is done properly and that the results are accurate. There are a lot of good people. But I am seeing where several parts of the process still need to be addressed.”
Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 was the final day of recount that began on Wed. Dec. 7th. Across the state, the recount demonstrated that there was no systemic fraud that had been claimed. Nor was there any voting machines attached to the Internet. The system works. Any conspiracy theories were debunked as were allegations of ballot box tampering.
The partial recount did demonstrate that there were some human errors. Sporadic discrepancies were found with folded ballots, accidental counting of spoiled ballots, broken seals, and the incorrect recording of numbers of ballots.
Representatives of EIFF and the Boards of Canvassers desire to repair the human errors. County Clerks felt that any errors would be addressed with precinct workers during training.
Across the state, election officials have had mixed feelings regarding the partial recount. All want to have an accurate reporting of election results. To ensure accuracy, problems will be addressed during trainings so poll workers pay more attention to details.
A piece to address relates to recounting ballots. “We need to adjust the rules so all precincts can be recounted no matter if there is a discrepancy found before ballots are organized for recounting,” shared Ladenburger. “That must be corrected at the state level.”
There were concerns with aggressive challengers who have been disruptive and combative. Foul language, EIFF challengers touching ballots and containers, and threatening behavior will not be tolerated. Those people will be removed and prosecuted. These behaviors have brought warnings from Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
At this time, it is unknown how EIFF will utilize the findings from the partial recount. But it is known that the $125 per precinct, more than $75,000, the recount requesters must pay will not cover the costs for the recount. Thus, taxpayers in each identified precinct will need to cover the difference.
An item that will be seriously considered is changing the ordinance so a recount cannot be requested unless the outcome of an election may be affected. Candidate recounts already have this stipulation.
The Board of State Canvassers will examine the results of the partial recount closely and vote on certifying the results on Wed., Dec. 21, 2022.

Leave a Reply