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Partial recount of 71st House District confirmed excellent election administration and accurate result

A partial recount of the 71st House District in Eaton County demonstrated local and county election officials conducted the election expertly and voting machines accurately tallied the ballots.

All of the 50 requested precincts were eligible for recount, despite Michigan’s strict recount laws, and after the approximately 30,000 ballots were recounted by hand, the net difference compared to the machine count was only five votes. Small changes to vote totals in hand recounts are typical, and indicate that tabulators counted ballots accurately on election day.

“This recount confirmed what we already know – that Michigan local and county election officials did a tremendous job running this election and the results are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “I am grateful to the county clerk and the local clerks in these municipalities, as well as the Board of County Canvassers. I am especially appreciative of the clerks and staff who participated in the recount during the ongoing pandemic. All Michiganders are indebted to these public servants for their tireless and outstanding work.”

After candidate Gina Johnsen requested the partial recount the Bureau of Elections conducted it on behalf of the Board of State Canvassers on Dec. 7 and 8, in close coordination with Eaton County Clerk Diana Bosworth.

The recount was conducted at the Delta Township Community Center with ten two-person, vote-counting teams. Local clerks formed the teams, with no clerk recounting ballots from his or her own jurisdiction. The recount was open to the public and both candidates had challengers and attorneys present. Clear screens were set up next to recount tables, to prevent coronavirus transmission while allowing challengers to view the ballots and issue challenges as the counting occurred.

According to the previously certified results of the election, Angela Witwer was the winning candidate with a total of 28,200 votes, while Johnsen received 26,049 votes. Under Michigan law, recounts are conducted by hand. After the approximately 30,000 requested ballots were recounted, Angela Witwer was determined to have received 28,199 votes (a loss of one vote) and Gina Johnsen was determined to have received 26,053 votes (a gain of four votes), for a net change of five votes.

The accuracy of the machine-tabulated results, along with the quality and efficiency of the hand recount, show that the county and municipal clerks did an excellent job programming and testing voting equipment and training election workers on Election Day. It also demonstrates that the bipartisan Board of County Canvassers for Eaton County properly canvassed and certified the election results.

The Board of State Canvassers will now meet to certify the recount results.

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