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State Elections Bureau To Investigate Detroit Ballot Irregularities

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The state will look into problems with ballots cast in 20 Detroit precincts in last month’s elections.  The recount last week showed big discrepancies in the number of votes counted and the number of ballots stored in containers.  That left more than half the city’s precincts unrecountable.

State elections officials say it appears to be human error.  The ballots are being shipped to Lansing, so elections workers can inspect them and verify they were all properly counted. 

Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas says the problem appears to be ballots were left in machines rather than being moved to secure storage containers.  But he says there’s no evidence of tampering with the results anywhere in the state. 

“Throughout this process, and in many of the court hearings, there were all kinds of allegations that were not substantiated by any facts,” he said.  

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested the recount, suggesting voting systems are susceptible to hacking or tampering.  

A Michigan attorney for the Stein campaign says a state inquiry into ballot irregularities shouldn’t focus strictly on problems in Detroit. 

“We had unsealed containers outstate, containers sealed with duct tape, canvass bags with holes in them,” said Mark Brewer, also a former state Democratic Party chair.  “Those weren’t in Detroit.  Those were outstate, and I think it’s really unfair to focus solely on the unrecountability problem in Detroit and let the rest of these situations be ignored, essentially.” 

Chris Thomas, the state elections director, said no other regions showed the same disparities as Detroit. But he said the state may have to adopt new rules on storing ballots, such as limiting how many ballots can be stored in a single bag or container as a precaution against rips and tears. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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