Detailed reports from the office of Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett show optical scanners at 248 of the city’s 662 precincts, or 37 percent, tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books. Voting irregularities in Detroit have spurred plans for an audit by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office, Elections Director Chris Thomas said Monday.The Detroit precincts are among those that couldn’t be counted during a statewide presidential recount that began last week and ended Friday following a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Democrat Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly prevailed in Detroit and Wayne County. But Republican President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes or 47.5 percent to 47.3 percent.
Overall, state records show 10.6 percent of the precincts in the 22 counties that began the retabulation process couldn’t be recounted because of state law that bars recounts for unbalanced precincts or ones with broken seals.
The problems were the worst in Detroit, where discrepancies meant officials couldn’t recount votes in 392 precincts, or nearly 60 percent. And two-thirds of those precincts had too many votes.
“There’s always going to be small problems to some degree, but we didn’t expect the degree of problem we saw in Detroit. This isn’t normal,” said Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.
State officials are planning to examine about 20 Detroit precincts where ballot boxes opened during the recount had fewer ballots than poll workers had recorded on Election Day.
“We’re assuming there were (human) errors, and we will have discussions with Detroit election officials and staff in addition to reviewing the ballots,” Thomas said.
The Detroit News last week was first to report that more than half of Detroit would be ineligible for the recount because of the irregularities. The results were based on county reports obtained by The News.
The new report, compiled by Wayne County elections officials, sheds light on the extent of the problems and shows a systematic tendency toward counting more votes than the previous Wayne County report, which didn’t specify if precincts had over-counted or under-counted ballots.
Republican state senators last week called for an investigation in Wayne County, including one precinct where a Detroit ballot box contained only 50 of the 306 ballots listed in a poll book, according to an observer for Trump.
City officials have told state officials that ballots in that precinct were never taken out of a locked bin below the voting machine tabulator on Election Day, said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.
“That’s what we’ve been told, and we’ll be wanting to verify it,” Woodhams said. “At any rate, this should not have happened.”