The recount of Detroit’s election for city clerk began Tuesday at Cobo Center — two weeks after candidate Garlin Gilchrist II announced he was requesting it in the wake of his narrow loss to incumbent Janice Winfrey.
Gilchrist said he had more than 30 campaign volunteers observing the recount of the city’s 100 absentee voter counting boards, as well as 60 precincts where problems were reported on Nov. 7.
At least two absentee precincts were reported as not recountable Tuesday morning, Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist, who lost to incumbent clerk Janice Winfrey by 1,482 votes, said he expects the recount will take a few days.
His campaign paid $20,000 for the recount, he said.
Detroit Department of Elections Director Daniel Baxter was not immediately available for comment.
Gilchrist has said he believes the recount is necessary after hearing stories of “chaos and confusion” from absentee voters.
He said there were reports of voters receiving a second absentee ballot application in the mail, getting ballots they were told they didn’t apply for, and the clerk’s office mailing duplicate absentee ballot receipts to voters.
“There was enough confusion for us to have concerns about how those ballots were going to be processed and how they were going to be counted before Election Day,” Gilchrist said. “And then results on Election Night just added to those voters’ concerns.”
The clerk candidate previously said he was mulling the recount after he’d heard “troubling accounts” from voters and planned to investigate, saying there were questions “that give us concern about the vote tallies.”
Unofficial election results showed Winfrey received 50.6 percent of the votes to Gilchrist’s 49.1 percent.
At one point on election night, Gilchrist was up 54 percent to Winfrey’s 45 percent. A breakdown of the complete unofficial results revealed Winfrey dominated the absentee vote, while Gilchrist won a majority of Election Day votes.
Winfrey had 19,967 absentee votes compared with Gilchrist’s 11,207 with all precincts reporting. Gilchrist won 37,193 votes at the polls while Winfrey received 29,915, according to Wayne County voting data.
In an interview on WDET-FM (101.9) the day following the election, Winfrey said a recount would not change the election results.
Winfrey did not return a call Tuesday for comment.