Gilchrist will seek recount of absentee ballots

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — Garlin Gilchrist is requesting a recount of all absentee votes in the general election after a narrow loss to City Clerk Janice Winfrey.

Gilchrist said he believes the recount is necessary after hearing stories of “chaos and confusion” from absentee voters during election season.

He reiterated on Tuesday 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.”

Gilchrist, 35, said he may also request recounts at precincts where there were problems on Election Day.

“I think it’s important that voters know what happens to their ballot after they get cast and they know that they will be counted properly,” Gilchrist said.

As for the costs of the recount, Gilchrist said he expects to pay $125 for each precinct. His recount petition will include all 100 absentee voter counting boards in Detroit.

Gilchrist said his campaign is prepared to finance the recount.

His recount announcement came shortly after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the Nov. 7 election on Tuesday.

Winfrey could not be immediately reached for comment.

Despite calling for a recount, Gilchrist praised Detroit’s election process, saying it improved because of the competitive city clerk’s campaign this year.

He cited polling places that were accommodating more disabled voters and the increased training for poll workers.

“Our campaign brought transparency and accountability to the forefront this year,” Gilchrist said. “And calling for this recount is the next step to getting closer to that transparency and accountability.”

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.”

In one instance, Gilchrist said a voter had arrived at his precinct to vote on Nov. 7, only to be told he already voted absentee, which he hadn’t.

Gilchrist, during a news conference on the day after the election, also noted reports of absentee voters casting ballots and then receiving multiple ballot receipts from Winfrey’s office.

Voters, he contends, also voiced concerns about receiving letters requesting absentee ballot applications, and then two days later — without submitting the application — a ballot came in the mail.

Gilchrist lost to Winfrey by 1,482 votes. Unofficial election results showed Winfrey earned 50.6 percent to Gilchrist’s 49.1 percent.

At one point, 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 earned 29,915, according to Wayne County voting data.

Winfrey has not responded to requests for comment from The News, but in an interview on WDET-FM (101.9) the day following the election, she said a recount would not change the election results.