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Canvassers vote count finds new winner in Wayne County Circuit Court judge race

The Detroit News

This week's Wayne County Board of Canvassers certification of Nov. 3's election results produced a new winner in the Wayne County judge race in what had been a tight race for second place.

Voters had picked who would fill two six-year spots for the Wayne County Circuit Court bench. According to the initial results, Mary Beth Kelly won the first seat with 276,578 votes, or 28.1%, while Nicholas John Hathaway placed second with 247,251, or 25.1%.

Wayne County Circuit Court judicial candidates Chandra Baker, left, and Nicholas John Hathaway.

Hathaway, a referee in the Wayne County Circuit Court’s Family Division, was just 631 votes ahead of the third-place candidate, Chandra Baker, who had 246,620, which also resulted in a 25.1% share of the vote.

That meant that for more than a week, Hathaway was considered one of the two winners.

"I cannot put into words how grateful I am for everyone who worked to help me achieve this goal! WE WON! I have to especially thank my wife Dana and my kids who have been absolute champions throughout this process!!" he wrote on his campaign's Facebook page. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work for the people of Wayne County!!"

But following the Board of Canvassers canvass Tuesday night after absentee ballot poll books at 70% of Detroit's 134 absentee counting boards were found to be out of balance without explanation, more votes were counted, records show.

Kelly remained the top vote-getter, with 279,106, or 27.69%. Meanwhile, Baker's tally rose to 250,575, or 24.86%, making her the victor to take second place.

Baker, a lead attorney in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, earned just 371 more votes than Hathaway's 250,204.

In a post of her campaign's Facebook page, Baker wrote:

"All I can say is MY GOD IS AMAZING! The election results are official! I am your new WAYNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE! God has never lost a battle! My race flipped and I have been declared the winner!

Hathaway could not immediately be reached Wednesday night or Thursday.

Jonathan Kinloch, vice chairman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said the results of the race were unofficial until the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified them. That vote happened Tuesday amid controversy between the board's Republican and Democratic members.

"The results are unofficial until the county Board of Canvassers certifies them," he said. "That's why county and city clerks always tell people results are unofficial until the canvass is completed."

Kinloch said he didn't have the specifics of what happened in the judge's race readily available, but he recalls there were usual issues with the election results and a problem with some precincts being able to upload results.

He also said he has not heard about any party asking for a recount of the votes in the judge's race, but candidates have six days after votes were certified to request one.