Sometimes, it’s not over until the ballots are counted – again!

The last blog I posted talked about what happens after the election, like closing the polls and processing the paperwork. It didn’t end there! At the end of all results being canvassed and certified as accurate by the County, the difference in the number of votes cast for two candidates for the Republican office of the 29th State Representative was SIX! Therefore, a recount took place.

Let me back up a bit and tell you what every Clerk will agree upon – we quake in terror at the thought of a recount. It’s not because we don’t have confidence in our results – we do. It’s not because we don’t trust our workers – we do. In fact, we have audits performed on our election results as a routine practice enacted by the state, which we have passed with flying colors. It is this – once in a while, a precinct may scratch out the seal number on the ballot bag, or not place the seal on correctly, or not put a note in the poll book with an explanation of an unusable ballot. Any of those things can make a precinct not able to be recounted, which angers the candidates, and makes a Clerk feel really bad.


In a recount, an entire table of people with very high stakes in the results pay close attention to every detail of the ballot bag, poll book, and ballots. We, the Clerks involved in the election, must be present. Both candidates are there, along with their families and supporters, and both really, really want to win. Needless to say, the tensions are high and great care is taken with the recounts.

Here is how it went. The Clerks of Pontiac, Sylvan Lake, Orchard Lake and Auburn Hills were required to bring the ballots to the County the Friday before the recount, so that the County had them in hand. Then on the morning of the recount, we went to the designated room and had a seat in the corner, against the wall, so that we were available for questions. From that vantage point, we were able to watch all the action without being able to touch anything. Each ballot container and all paperwork was reviewed by a member of the Oakland County Board of Canvassers, who would then announce to the room at large, “Auburn Hills Precinct 1 is qualified for recount”. As I said before, I was very confident but that doesn’t mean my heart didn’t pound and my palms sweat each of the nine times they started with “Auburn Hills Precinct…..”.

All nine of our precincts were recountable. It didn’t work that way for every municipality, so I was very proud of our Election Chairs, workers and staff. In the end, the trusted machines we use for elections proved themselves once again. The total changed by one vote, so the total was a difference of seven rather than six votes. And the ballot that switched was due to human error, not the machines.

Yes, I have total confidence in our elections. And in myself, having administered about 34 or 35 elections. Like all Clerks, though, I am crossing my fingers that whoever wins any of the seats in November wins by a sufficient enough margin that we don’t have a recount again! So get out and vote, or call us for an absentee ballot at 248-370-9402!

Terri Kowal, City Clerk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s