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Michigan ballot proposal recounts to begin at taxpayer expense

A ballot drop box appears outside the Foster Community Center in Lansing on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.
Sarah Lehr
A ballot drop box appears outside the Foster Community Center in Lansing on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.

Partial recounts of ballots cast in the November election begin Wednesday — but with no realistic possibility of changing the results that added new abortion rights and voting rights amendments to the Michigan Constitution.

Proposal 2 and Proposal 3 were adopted by voters by decisive margins that would not be changed even if all the precinct-level challenges succeed. Nevertheless, campaigns shelled out $125 per precinct for the recounts.

But Jake Rollow with the Michigan Secretary of State said Tuesday that’s a pittance compared to the full costs of the recounts.

“Many precincts have thousands of votes cast and there are multiple people at the state and local level, all of whom earn an hourly wage,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “You know, when you add it all up and the hours that it takes to put it all together, it comes to far more than $125 per precinct.”

Rollow said it’s impossible to tell in advance how much the recounts will cost beyond the fees paid.

“Really, the counties and the state pay for it, or to put it more bluntly, taxpayers pay for it,” he said.

The recounts were allowed to move ahead following a raucous meeting this week of the Michigan Board State of Canvassers, where members complained the recounts are a waste of time and money, and with an obvious goal of trying to cast doubt on the integrity of elections.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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