Garcia Files Recount Petition for EL School Board

Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 7:07 pm
By: 
Dan Totzkay

Above: The candidates who ran for ELPS Board of Trustees; Garcia is in the top row, center.

Noel Garcia, candidate from the November 2018 East Lansing School Board election, has filed a recount petition.

Garcia filed the petition this morning, as confirmed by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum. According to another, anonymous source, a letter and e-mail were sent by Byrum to candidates from the School Board election early this afternoon to advise them of the situation.

According to Byrum’s e-mail, the East Lansing Public School district will be responsible for any costs that arise from this recount. Included in the recount petition are East Lansing Precincts 1-15 and 17, Lansing Ward 1 Precinct 45, Meridian Charter Township Precincts 18-20, and Bath Charter Township Precinct 5.

In his Facebook post regarding the recount, Garcia states that the “differential is less than 2 votes per precinct” and that he wants to “make sure that votes weren’t missed and that the results are accurate.”

Garcia continues that he is “not accusing anyone of intentional errors or mistakes” and that “[i]n the end this is really not about winning or losing. Rather it is about ensuring that our machines that support our democracy are accurate and fair.”

In his petition document as supplied to ELi, Garcia states he believes “there were mistakes made in how absentee ballots were adjudicated and how precinct ballot markers were interpreted in the East Lansing School Board election.” He continues that he has “a good faith belief that if not for these errors I would have been successful in winning a seat in this election.”

Garcia is referring, in part, to confusion around the East Lansing School Board ballot, as reported by WILX. The East Lansing School district includes parts of Lansing, Lansing Charter Township, Meridian Township, and Bath Township, and according to WILX, “The first 122 voters who showed up at Foster Community Center in Lansing were given East Lansing School District ballots, but 88 of those people were not East Lansing residents.”

Byrum tells ELi that the cost of the recount has not been determined yet, as the pay rate for recount workers will be set by the Ingham County Board of Canvassers. Byrum said that a 2016 Ingham County Presidential Recount in which she was involved, with 131,617 ballots, cost approximately $19,000. There are 17,592 ballots involved in this recount request, according to a preliminary count.

Garcia says his recount request comes after regularly checking for official results from the Ingham County Board of Canvassers. Garcia told ELi he had not been told the official results and only learned of the vote being made official via a Monday Facebook post by another member of the School Board race.

The election results were in fact made official on Thursday, November 15, which Garcia only learned this week. That left today as the final day for his petition to be filed.

According to the Ingham County Clerk’s office, the final vote counts for the race came in as follows:

  • Terah Chambers: 7,538
  • Kate Powers: 6,981
  • Chris Martin: 6,881
  • Kath Edsall: 6,729
  • Noel Garcia: 6,690
  • Thasin Sardar: 5,963
  • Todd Swales: 2,461

According to Byrum, Garcia filed a $525 fee with his petition. This is in accordance to Michigan Election Law Act 116 which requires a $25 deposit per precinct petitioned. If fraud or mistake is established and the election result officially changes, the petitioner (Garcia, in this case) is refunded the money. Otherwise the fee is paid to the County Treasurer.

A counter petition can be filed within 48 hours of the recount petition. Other candidates can also file an objection to the Ingham County Board of Canvassers in writing by 5:00 p.m. on November 28, 2018.

 

Note: This article originally produced the vote counts for Ingham County only. The numbers now shown, as of 8:45 p.m. on November 21, include the votes counted in Clinton County.