The Libertarian candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are willing to pay $8,500 to cover the cost of a recount aimed at ensuring their names appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The two candidates ran a write-in campaign to win the Libertarian nomination. Under state law, they had to receive at least 230 votes in the primary election to advance to the general election, but they fell about 50 votes short. Now, the Libertarians are asking the State Canvassing Board to authorize a hand tally in at least eight counties and they’ve provided an $8,500 check to cover the cost. They will get the money back if the recount shows that they had enough votes to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office notified counties today that they must tabulate write-in votes in last Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate. The notification is one step in the process of certifying Tuesday’s vote. State law requires counties to tabulate the write-in votes unless the number of write-ins is fewer than the deciding margin in the race.
With national attention on Alabama’s Senate race between Democrat Doug Jones, and Republican Roy Moore, WAAY 31 wanted to know how write-in votes would be counted. “I will be voting for Roy Moore,” said Tuscumbia resident, Anethea Harper. Harper said she trusts Moore and, if she votes, then her ballot will go to him. The former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice is accsued of sexual misconduct by multiple women. “If he’s guilty then I think he will do the right thing and step aside,” said Harper.
Florida: Seminole County elections supervisor: State law loophole robs thousands of voters | Orlando Sentinel
Kevin Gross is a longtime political candidate who has run for Seminole CountyCommission three times and most recently for Clerk of Courts. But his name has never appeared on a ballot. He has never mailed out campaign fliers or even set up a campaign website. Still, Gross’ low-profile campaigns as a write-in candidate have had a big influence on Seminole’s elections process by shutting out a majority of the county’s voters. Now, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel is urging legislators to take another crack at closing a loophole in the state’s election law that allows a write-in candidate — such as Gross and others across Central Florida — to close off primaries to all voters. “This little loophole has kind of bastardized the [elections] process,” Ertel said. “This is about the voters having faith and trust in the process. And it’s our job to make sure that everyone understands the process is working fairly for everyone.”
Pennsylvania: The 197th District has an unofficial winner, and an official investigation | Philadelphia Inquirer
The contentious and controversial special election for the 197th District of the state House has an unofficial winner — Democrat Emilio Vazquez. It also has an official investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office into allegations of voter fraud during Tuesday’s election. Staffers from the city’s Board of Elections spent Friday morning methodically combing through long reams of narrow paper tapes, calling out the votes for write-in candidates such as Vazquez. The count showed Vazquez winning with 73.5 percent of the vote. Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who like Vazquez was kept off the ballot by a Commonwealth Court judge’s ruling, finished second with 10.5 percent. Other write-in candidates took a combined 8.6 percent.
Voting in a special election to fill a vacant state House of Representatives seat ended Tuesday night with no clear winner: The only candidate on the ballot tallied less than 8 percent of the votes, with the rest going to write-in candidates. With all precincts counted in North Philadelphia’s largely Democratic 197th District, Republican Lucinda Little had 198 votes, the rest — 2,483 — going to a number of write-in candidates, including Democrat Emilio Vazquez and the Green Party’s Cheri Honkala. Deputy City Commissioner Tim Dowling said a winner won’t be declared until at least Friday.
A protest has been filed in Bladen County alleging that a handful of people may have improperly submitted hundreds of absentee ballots, while also getting paid for get-out-the-vote efforts by a community group funded by the N.C. Democratic Party. According to the protest filed by McCrae Dowless, who won election as soil and water district supervisor, the handwriting on a number of ballots and the signatures of some mail-in absentee witnesses were similar. He said the questioned ballots seem to have been cast in favor of a straight ticket of candidates and also to vote for a man named Franklin Graham, who ran a write-in campaign for soil and water district supervisor. A letter the Bladen County elections board wrote to the State Board of Elections, and attached to the complaint, raises the same concerns. While some ballots listed witnesses, few include the documentation that would be required if someone had also assisted the voters, according to the letter.
Imagine an election when you could vote for anyone you wanted. In parts of America, you can – simply by writing a name on the ballot paper. But if millions of disillusioned people voted for someone like Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, could he actually become president? It’s a quirk of the American election system. Voters are allowed to “write in” candidates who aren’t officially running for the top job when they go to the polls. They simply write the name on the ballot. Mickey Mouse is a US favourite. Donald Duck often pops up in Scandinavia. God and Me are other perennial picks. Every year there are more serious protest votes. The name of a vice-presidential nominee, or an independent, for example. But it’s rare for senators or congressmen to shun their party’s presidential nominee and write in a totally different candidate. The 1932 New York mayoral race was perhaps the first election where Mickey Mouse appeared This year, at least three Republicans have said they will write in the name of Mr Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, after a 2005 video tape in which the Republican candidate made obscene remarks about women emerged.
South Carolina: Planning to write-in a vote for president? Think again, South Carolina voters | The Herald
Maybe lawmakers generations ago saw the election of 2016 coming. Maybe they didn’t want to count cartoon characters or dead folks when sorting out candidates for the top job in the country. For whatever reason, they made sure South Carolina voters won’t be straying too far from the pack on election day. Title 7 – Elections, Chapter 13 in South Carolina reads like a phone book. About halfway down is one of the shorter voting rules, but one that could surprise a voter on Nov. 8. It states: “The ballots shall also contain a place for voters to write in the name of any other person for whom they wish to vote, except on ballots for the election of the president and vice President.” So all those next day reports of odd write-in votes nationwide won’t happen in South Carolina. “It varies by state law,” said Wanda Hemphill, registration and elections director for York County.
Disillusioned voters who don’t like any of the presidential candidates in the Nov. 8 general election may be tempted to write in another name. Doing so is not allowed by state law, said Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. “What it doesn’t do is it does not throw the entire ballot out,” she said at a Beadle County Republican Party campaign luncheon in Huron on Monday. “That’s the misconception right now,” she said. “Your ballot is still marked race by race. Any race not marked is not counted.” The intense interest in the presidential race between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is prompting the national media to regularly call secretaries of state across the country. Krebs said she also gets as many as 1,500 e-mail inquiries a day in her office.
Virginia: Planning to cast a write-in for president? Don’t expect it to count in Virginia | Richmond Times-Dispatch
If you can’t bring yourself to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November, you can always write in your presidential candidate of choice. Just don’t expect it to count. Write-in votes for president aren’t counted in Virginia unless the candidate has declared the candidacy and filed a slate of electors with state elections officials. “There is a write-in space on the ballot, but unless the candidate has adhered to proper procedures” as set forth in Section 24.2-644 of the Code of Virginia, “those write-ins don’t count,” said Martin Mash, confidential policy adviser to the Virginia Department of Elections. Under section 24.2-644 (C) of the Code of Virginia, “Write-in votes for president and vice president shall be counted only for candidates who have filed a joint declaration of intent to be write-in candidates for the offices with the secretary of the State Board (of Elections) not less than ten days before the date of the presidential election.”
In a small Virginia town with a population of 200, there are few aspiring politicians. In fact, there are so few that Newsoms, Virginia, found itself with a unique problem on Election Day Tuesday: No one ran for office, and the ballot was blank.
Luzerne County’s approach to tallying write-in votes has come under fire, prompting a lengthy debate at last week’s county council meeting. West Hazleton Borough Councilman James Bucky Kulaga raised the issue along with several council members, questioning why the the county election board didn’t declare him a Democratic write-in winner in the borough council race after the May 17 primary. Kulaga, who won one of the four Republican nominations, said 10 Democratic write-in votes were required to receive that party’s nomination.
US Virgin Islands: Hansen wants to take recount case to U.S. Supreme Court | Virgin Islands Daily News
Sen. Alicia Hansen plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her vote recount case, after the V.I. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that ordered a stop to the recount. The V.I. Supreme Court issued the decision upholding Judge Harold Willocks’ Dec. 24 ruling granting a writ of mandamus in a case filed by Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly against the V.I. government and the St. Croix Board of Elections. Hansen intervened in that case. Rivera-O’Reilly, who was seventh among elected St. Croix senators, filed the case in V.I. Superior Court on Dec. 8 – four days after the board began the recount of Hansen’s write-in votes. Rivera-O’Reilly asked the court to stop the recount on the grounds that it was illegal. The territory’s high court on Thursday found that although the lower court’s decision granting the writ was correct, its reasoning was wrong.
Virginia: Election official questions Attorney General tally, Republican has hope in recount | Examiner
A law championed by Democrat Creigh Deeds could give Republican Mark Obenshain the tools to erase Mark Herring’s 165-vote margin in Virgina’s attorney general’s race, Watchdog.org reported. Deeds, who lost the AG contest to Bob McDonnell in 2005 by 360 votes, subsequently authored legislation requiring all optical scan ballots be re-run in the event of a recount, and that ballots containing write-in votes, undervotes or overvotes be hand-counted. In 2005, the ballots were only re-run in precincts that had identified problems. “This is new territory for Virginia and a margin well within the range in which recounts have changed the vote lead,” Obenshain spokesman Paul Logan said.
Crawford County Court of Common Pleas is being asked to order a special election in the race for a six-year term on the Wayne Township Board of Supervisors. Bruce M. Peterson, a Wayne resident who was the Democratic Party nominee for the supervisor’s post, is petitioning the court because his name was left off the township’s ballot in the Nov. 5 general election. Peterson won the Democratic Party nomination for the supervisor’s post in the May 21 primary while Lee Singleton, another Wayne resident, won the Republican Party nomination for the same position in May 21 primary. Both names were to appear on the township ballot for the Nov. 5 election, but only Singleton’s did, according to the petition filed with county court.
Wayne County elections workers are expected to begin their eighth day recounting ballots from disputed Detroit elections this morning, and little information is being made available on how much longer the recount will take — or how much it is costing. County officials said Monday that about 80% of the ballots have been counted. Paperwork then has to be completed after the count. Delphine Oden, Wayne County’s director of elections, declined to say Monday when she expected the recount to end. The recount was approved by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, which is looking into allegations of fraud detailed in a petition filed by former mayoral candidate Tom Barrow. Barrow’s allegations include, among other things, that the number of applications for absentee ballots was lower than the number of absentee votes cast, and that similar handwriting appears on several ballots cast for former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, who will face Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in November’s general election. Carol Larkin, chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said the overall cost for the recount appears headed closer to $100,000 than the $500,000 price tag Barrow has suggested. “We won’t know the total until it’s done,” she said. “It is going to get costly, though.”
Michigan: Board of Canvassers to hire handwriting expert for review of Detroit primary recount | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers decided Saturday to hire a handwriting expert to review ballots from Detroit’s August primary election. The decision came as the board met at Cobo Center to consider more than 170 challenges filed so far in the latest recount of the primary. The top vote-getters in the mayor’s race, as certified by the state — former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon — will face each other in the November general election. Despite the decision to hire a handwriting expert, several challengers criticized the 19 samples that would be reviewed as too small to be representative.
It may be hard to believe but the primary election in Detroit still is not settled. And today makes exactly one month since voters cast ballots for mayor, city council and city clerk. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted Thursday to recount ballots from Detroit’s August primary, based on a petition from former mayoral candidate Tom Barrow, who alleged fraud in the election process. It will be the fourth time ballots from Detroit’s mayoral race will be counted. Detroit elections workers counted the ballots initially, then workers from the Wayne County Elections Division verified the counts to try and certify the results. But the certification came from the Board of State Canvassers after the Wayne County board found issues they said called for state intervention.
Michigan: State elections director: Re-tabulation prevented disenfranchisement of over 24,000 Detroit voters | MLive.com
The state Board of Canvassers voted Tuesday to certify election results from Detroit’s Aug. 6 primary election after staffers reviewed write-in ballots and calculated totals that differed vastly from Wayne County numbers. Michigan Bureau of Elections workers spent days re-tabulating write-in ballots from 385 of Detroit’s 614 precincts after Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers declined to certify results because of questions surrounding the way mayoral write-in votes were initially counted. In some precincts, poll workers did not use hash marks to count write-in votes, leading the County Clerk’s office to seek to disqualify thousands of votes and calling mayoral candidate Mike Duggan’s overwhelming write-in victory into question. The state unsealed ballot containers and reviewed votes from precincts where there were discrepancies between the county’s vote summary and statements of votes prepared by elections inspectors.
Michigan: Detroit’s mayoral primary certified; decertification, recount efforts begin | The Detroit News
The Board of State Canvassers unanimously voted Tuesday to certify Detroit’s primary election results and declare former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan the top vote-getter in the Aug. 6 contest. The results were certified by the two Democrats and two Republicans, but an attorney indicated there will be an effort next week to decertify the mayoral primary election results. The state’s tally shows Duggan with 48,716 votes or 51.7 percent of the vote to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon’s 28,391 votes or 30.1 percent. The state stepped into the primary vote-counting controversy when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers didn’t certify the vote counts of the county clerk or Detroit clerk. But Tuesday’s certification of the primary vote will start recount efforts filed to Wayne County, which could take weeks to complete. Absentee ballots for the general election are set to be sent to voters on Sept. 21. Officials expressed concern a recount could delay absentee ballots being mailed.
Michigan: Appeals court tosses judge’s restraining order on state’s review of Detroit ballots | Detroit Free Press
The Michigan Court of Appeals today tossed out a lower court’s restraining order that could have irreparably delayed the Board of State Canvassers’ review of Detroit’s mayoral election. A three-judge appeals panel ruled that Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s order issued Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Detroit City Clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon was made moot because the canvassers had already completed their review of disputed write-in ballots from the city’s Aug. 6 primary election. The judges — Donald Owens, Michael Kelly and Amy Ronayne Krause — also ruled that the board “must be permitted to fulfill its statutory duty to certify the election results” within a 10-day period, as required by state law, and that the canvassers’ work will not harm a recount of ballots sought by Wilcoxon. PDF: Court of Appeals lifts restraining order
Members of the State Board of Canvassers voted 4-0 Tuesday to re-tally Detroit’s mayoral primary results, which means they’ll soon be rolling up their sleeves to recalculate what could become one of the most pivotal elections in Detroit history. The issue erupted after the Detroit city clerk’s office posted results that showed write-in candidate Mike Duggan handily defeating Benny Napoleon. But when the votes went to Wayne County for certification, the county board found Detroit workers had not used hashmarks to represent every five votes counted — so they tossed out 18,000 write-in ballots where hashmarks weren’t used in their tabulation. Without the 18,000 votes, Napoleon became the unofficial victor. Then the state stepped in and said those votes couldn’t be tossed out — so now Michigan is going to look at the ballots again. The recalculation is expected to last a few days.
Michigan: State takes up Detroit’s disputed election today, seeks to finalize mayor count | Detroit Free Press
State election officials will meet in Detroit this morning in an effort to finalize disputed results of the city’s Aug. 6 mayoral primary election. The state’s review of the election is ongoing and might not be finished by today’s public meeting of the Board of State Canvassers, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the secretary of state. The state board of two Democrats and two Republicans will meet at 10:30 a.m. at Cadillac Place, 3044 W. Grand Blvd. The state took over the job of verifying the Detroit primary results after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers last week refused to certify results prepared by the county clerk’s staff that differed greatly from unofficial results the city’s elections department compiled on election night.
Michigan: Election officials expected to ‘re-tabulate’ 18,000 votes in Detroit primary election | MLive.com
Michigan election officials are likely to review some 18,000 write-in votes from Detroit’s mayoral primary, and Gov. Rick Snyder is hoping for a swift resolution to the dispute. “There’s good people potentially involved in this process, so I hope it gets resolved,” Snyder said this morning during an interview on WJR-AM 760. “We don’t need more issues on things like this, but it’s important we do democracy the right way. Let’s get it looked at by the appropriate people, let’s get decisions made and let’s move forward.” The Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Tuesday considered throwing out 18,000 votes that would have swung the August 6 primary in favor of Sheriff Benny Napoleon weeks after unofficial results suggested that write-in candidate Mike Duggan had bested him by roughly 16,000 votes.
To paraphrase a line from HBO’s vote-debacle drama “Recount”: There’s a problem with the numbers in Detroit. A meeting of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers this week should have been as tedious as 10 pages of computer code. Instead, it became a highly publicized test of democracy — or competence — when the county clerk’s office tried to push through a near-50 percent change in the write-in vote total. The clerk’s office urged the canvassers to discard 18,000 write-in ballots: The reason given? Poll workers had used numerals rather than tally marks and hash tags on the official count. That discrepancy was not illegal, according to the state election director, Chris Thomas. But the county clerk urged the board of canvassers to toss the questionably counted ballots, turning them into non-votes. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, whose results were being challenged, demurred. “A citizen’s vote is the cornerstone of democracy, and people should be able to put their faith in their ballot,” she said. Those 18,000 ballots, all write-ins, were presumably cast for Mike Duggan. A turnabout in the total would eliminate his lead, making Benny Napoleon the primary winner.
Michigan: Detroit mayor count in chaos as Wayne County refuses to certify primary results | Detroit Free Press
A state election panel will have to decide who really won the Detroit mayoral primary after Wayne County election officials on Tuesday refused to certify shocking new election results, which would have invalidated about 20,000 votes and handed the primary win to Benny Napoleon instead of Mike Duggan. The county board was debating whether to invalidate more than 20,000 write-in votes that were not recorded at polling locations using hash marks, which would cause the result of the Aug. 6 primary to be flipped — with Napoleon, the Wayne County sheriff, receiving more votes than write-in candidate Duggan. ■ PDF: Unofficial write-in summary for Detroit mayoral primary
When the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refused to certify the results of Detroit’s Aug. 6 mayoral primary Tuesday, citing irregularities in the tabulation of write-in votes, many reflexively laid the blame at City Clerk Janice Winfrey’s doorstep. Only in Detroit, Winfrey’s critics clucked, could election officials mishandle enough votes to turn what had been declared a landslide victory for write-in candidate Mike Duggan into a lopsided victory for his rival, Benny Napoleon. But by Wednesday, just 24 hours after county canvassers asked the state to conduct a recount, the evidence suggested that they and County Clerk Cathy Garrett may have grossly overreacted to minor variations in the way some Elections Department workers recorded write-in votes for Duggan.
Images of the ballots cast in the 2009 municipal election are available for public inspection now that a four-year legal battle between City Hall and an Aspen resident has come to a close. The city of Aspen made 2,415 ballot images available Thursday on its website, and released them to the attorney for Marilyn Marks, who sued the city for access to the ballots. There were a total of 2,544 ballots cast in the 2009 election; 129 of them have been withheld due to identifying markers that could be traced back to a voter. Marks, who on Thursday said she has not spent much time examining the images posted online, wondered why the city withheld 129 ballots and if officials plan to attempt to make contact with voters who cast them since it’s illegal to make distinguishing marks on a ballot.
Outgoing Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuño is not going down without a fight. The Republican leader of the U.S. territory is demanding a recount to the results from this month’s elections that saw him lose his gubernatorial post to Alejandro García Padilla, the Popular Democratic Pary candidate who pulled in 47.78 percent of the vote, compared with Fortuño’s 47.09 percent. “I was informed by our electoral commissioner that, with a number of write-in votes still remaining and estimated at 20,000, which are yet to be verified, counted and included, whatever the case is, the trend observed so far in the candidacy for governor indicates that, provided it continues, the point-five percent (0.5%) difference referred to in Article 10.010, quoted, will probably be reached,” Fortuño wrote in a letter to Puerto Rico’s president of the State Elections Commission, Hector Conty, according to the newspaper El Nuevo Dia.