Stories indexed with the term ‘recount’

Municipal Math: How Fast Can You Re-Count?

Editor’s note: This is an occasional column that presents simple math puzzles stumbled over by The Chronicle “in the wild,” while covering local government. The puzzles are meant to be accessible to kids in high school, junior high, or elementary school.

Tally Marks

Tick marks like these are the same technique used to recount elections.

On Aug. 7, 2012, ballots were cast in primary elections – to finalize the ballot choices for voters in the Nov. 6 general election.

And  last week, on Sept. 4, 2012, the Washtenaw County board of canvassers conducted a recount of some of those ballots. Several different races were recounted, including some from Augusta Township, Sylvan Township, the city of Ypsilanti, and the city of Ann Arbor.

In the city of Ann Arbor, it was the Ward 4 city council contest that was recounted. That race had offered a choice for voters between incumbent Margie Teall and Jack Eaton.

The initial count of ballots across Ward 4 showed Teall with a total of 866 votes, compared to 848 votes for Eaton. That’s a difference of 18 votes. Another way of putting that: There was an average difference of exactly two votes per precinct in Ward 4. [Warm-up puzzle: How many precincts are in Ward 4?]

In the recounted totals, each candidate lost a vote in Precinct 9. In Precinct 6, Teall picked up one vote and Eaton lost one. That left Eaton and Teall with 846 and 866 votes, respectively. So the hand-counting of the paper ballots essentially confirmed the result of the optical scanners used on election day.

I’ve now covered four recounts for The Chronicle in the last five election cycles. At a recount event, as many as four separate tables might be set up in the room. Of course, the candidates in the races being recounted and their supporters are interested in watching the recounting of the ballots – to make sure everything is done properly. So it’s typical that four or five people stand around each of the tables watching the recounting as it takes place.

The actual recounting of the ballots for a given precinct is done by three people seated at the table. One person examines each paper ballot and calls out the name of the candidate who received a vote. The two other people each record a tally mark on a grid. At the end of the recounting, the hand-recorded totals on the two grids must match each other. If they don’t, everything must be re-recounted.

So the recounting procedure depends on the ability of the talliers to hear the person who is calling out the candidate name for each ballot. Because of that, everyone in the room always observes strict silence, without even being told by members of the board of canvassers that they must be quiet.

I’m kidding. It’s always necessary for a member of the board to shush everyone – more than once. That’s because we all fall prey to the belief that we can have our own side conversations that are quiet enough not to disrupt the counting – unlike those other loudmouths.

One reason those side conversations take place is that people need a way to pass the time. That’s because watching a recount is just plain boring. (That’s how you know it’s important.) So as you’re standing there watching, you start to wonder: How long is this going to take?

And as you look at the number of people assembled in the room, some of whom are being paid $12 an hour to do the recounting, you also wonder: How much is this going to cost? [Full Story]

Ballot Recounts Scheduled for Sept. 4

The meeting of the Washtenaw County board of canvassers to conduct recounts of some ballots cast during the Aug. 7, 2012 elections has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

Races to be recounted include the race for city of Ann Arbor Ward 4 Democratic councilmember. The final results across the nine precincts of Ward 4 showed incumbent Margie Teall with a total of 848 (49.5%) votes, compared to 866 (50.5%) for Jack Eaton – an 18-vote difference.

The city of Ypsilanti Ward 3 Democratic councilmember race will also be recounted. In that race, Pete Murdock tallied 440 (60.03%) votes compared to 242 (33.02%) for Mike Eller and 47 (6.41%) for Ted Windish.

Three races in Augusta Township will be recounted, … [Full Story]

Ward 4 City Council: Eaton Files for Recount

Candidate Jack Eaton has filed for a recount of ballots cast in the Aug. 7, 2012 Democratic primary election for Ward 4 Ann Arbor city council.

According to Washtenaw County director of elections Ed Golembiewski, the recounting of the physical ballots will likely be scheduled for early in the week beginning Aug. 27, depending on the availability of members on the board of canvassers. That would accommodate the 7-day requirement to allow other candidates involved to file objections.

The other candidate involved was incumbent Margie Teall. The final results across the nine precincts of Ward 4 showed Eaton with a total of 848 (49.5%) votes, compared to 866 (50.5%) for Teall. That’s a difference of just 18 votes.

A recount costs the candidate … [Full Story]

Recounting the Rabhi-Fried Recount

Last Thursday, a hand recount of ballots was conducted in the District 11 Democratic primary election for Washtenaw County commissioner. Initial results from the Aug 3. election had yielded Yousef Rabhi as the winner in a field of four candidates – by one vote. The candidate with 997 votes counted on election day, compared to Rabhi’s 998, was Mike Fried, who asked that the ballots be recounted.

Alice Ralph Jan BenDor Conan Smith Mike Fried

Before the Aug. 26 recounting got started, Conan Smith (left), a current county commissioner acting as one of Youself Rabhi's official "watchers," chats with Mike Fried (right), who'd asked for the recount. Shooting video for the Michigan Election Reform Alliance was Jan BenDor. Seated in the background is Alice Ralph, who came third in the balloting for the District 11 seat.

The process started around 12:30 p.m., and about four hours later in the lower level conference room of the county building at 200 N. Main St., the final ballots had been recounted – the last ones coming from Precinct 2 in Ann Arbor Township. [District 11 covers parts of southeast Ann Arbor and one precinct in Ann Arbor Township.]

Fried summed up the afternoon, conceding to Rabhi – who was still the winner after the recounting, with a relatively comfortable margin of two votes: “Well, congratulations!”

Fried continued with compliments all around for  the board of canvassers and the election inspectors who handled the recounting, saying he was amazed that they had finished in four hours.

The board of canvassers consists of Tony DeMott (R), Melodie Gable (R), Ulla Roth (D), and Carol Kuhnke (D). The news was first reported by The Ann Arbor Chronicle live from the scene: “Rabhi Prevails on Recount.”

The work might have been completed sooner, had it not been for a snafu with the Ann Arbor Township ballot box. Initially, the box for Precinct 1, not Precinct 2, had been delivered for recounting. Getting access to the correct box depended on tracking down someone with a key to the room in the township clerk’s office, where the ballots are stored.

Recounted totals for the four candidates: Yousef Rabhi, 999; Mike Fried, 997; Alice Ralph, 280; LuAnne Bullington, 108.

The afternoon included a range of scenarios that illuminated some of the more arcane aspects of the voting system. Also in attendance was Joe Baublis, who will be on the ballot for the Republicans in November for the District 11 county board seat. He posed a question at the start of the proceedings: How much will this recount cost taxpayers? [Full Story]

Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.

We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.

What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.

We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition. [Full Story]

Anatomy of a Recount


The duffel bag containing ballots from precinct 5-4.

Early Tuesday, the lower-level conference room of the County Building at 200 N. Main was filled with the scent of freshly-groomed election inspectors, board of canvassers members, candidates and their volunteer observers, county workers, plus the odor of institutional coffee wafting from a big silver urn. The combination amounted to a distinctive smell, which The Chronicle loves … the smell of democracy in the morning. [Full Story]