Clerk Seeks Workers, Especially Republicans, for School Board Recount

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 7:59 am
Dan Totzkay

[Updated as per note at the end of article.]

An election recount for the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Trustees will likely take place next week, performed by teams including at least one Democrat and one Republican. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum says she will be seeking workers for the recount and that she’s trying to keep down the costs, as they will be billed to the School District, and ultimately taxpayers.

Byrum hopes to have fifteen recount teams with at least one Democrat and one Republican on each, hired as temporary workers to hand count ballots. She confirmed yesterday with ELi that additional workers are still needed, especially those who identify as Republican. Byrum tells ELi that she believes in striving for partisan diversity "in the interest of fairness and transparency."

Byrum says it is likely the School Board recount will take place December 10 through 12, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The recount will take place at the Ingham County Fairgrounds Main Arena in Mason, MI. Byrum is hopeful the recount will only take two days, but has scheduled a third just in case.

As previously reported by ELi, a recount has been initiated for the November 2018 ELPS Board election by candidate Noel Garcia. Running for four open spots on the school board, Garcia came in 5th place, with 39 fewer votes than Kath Edsall, according to the Ingham County Clerk’s website.

In his recount petition, Garcia asked for recounts in all East Lansing precincts except 16. Precinct 16 includes the Red Cedar neighborhood, where Edsall lives (see precinct map). Garcia told ELi today that it was for this reason he excluded Precinct 16, as he and his team did not believe it would be cost-beneficial. According to Byrum, Edsall has since filed a counter petition - and its $25 fee - and Precinct 16 will be included in the recount.

According to Byrum, included in the recount will be East Lansing Precincts 1-17, Lansing Ward 1 Precinct 45, Meridian Charter Township Precincts 18-20, and Bath Charter Township Precinct 5.

As previously reported by ELi, East Lansing Public Schools is responsible for paying for this recount. In an e-mail sent to parties involved in the election and recount, Byrum acknowledged concerns individuals have brought to her regarding costs.

“As a good steward to taxpayer dollars,” Byrum says she will “continue to work to keep expenses as low as possible, while maintaining the security of the process.”

The recount's final cost is not yet known, but is estimated to be between between $14,927 and $22,384 after Wednesday's Open Meeting of the Ingham County Board of Canvassers. Recount worker wages were set at $150 per day, with estimated for other costs, according to a press release from Byrum on Wednesday. These costs do include additional expenses like supplies, chair and table rentals, and food for workers.

There are 17,592 ballots involved in this recount request, according to a preliminary count.

Byrum has noted that the recount petition could be withdrawn at any time. Garcia tells ELi his "decision is firm, there will be a recount."

Those interested in working the recount can fill out a Google Document that Byrum shared on Twitter.


[Update: This article was updated at 3:30 p.m. on the date of publication to add material from statements received after publication, including Byrum's explanation of her interest in achieving partisan diversity in the recount teams, Byrum's provision of information on Edsall's counter petition, Garcia's explanation of his reason for excluding Precinct 16 from his recount petition, and Garcia's statement that he will not withdraw his request for recount.]

[Update: This article was updated at 1:51 p.m. on December 5 to add information about possible recount cost and hourly wages for  workers.]

Correction: Due to an editing error, the original version of this article indicated that Garcia did not ask for a recount of East Lansing precinct 17. He did. The article was corrected two hours after publication.

Correction: An update at 1:51 indicated that the total cost of the recount is estimated to be between $8,177 and $8,884. That is incorrect, and reflects the cost of one day of recounting. The total estimate for 2-3 days is between $14,927 and $22,384.

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