Michigan Attorney Mark Brewer on his experience representing Presidential candidate Jill Stein in the 2016 post-election recount in Michigan.
An overflow crowd of concerned citizens attended a forum on Saturday, March 11, at Minerva’s in the Park Place Hotel, Traverse City, Michigan, to hear Attorney Mark Brewer, former Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. Mr. Brewer described his experience of being enlisted by Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein, to represent her in asking for a post-election re-count. He explained that the presidential margin in Michigan of 13,107 votes, was the closest vote margin in Michigan ever, but not enough to trigger an automatic re-count in and of itself. However, the official Presidential vote results found that 10,704 votes were not traceable, enough to ask for a re-count.
Mr. Brewer related that under Michigan law, a request for a recount must take place within 48 hours of the final vote tally. At a cost of about $125 per precinct, Mr. Brewer filed a fee amounting to $900,000 for the entire state. A state-wide recount of 5 million votes got underway with the goal of making sure that every vote had been counted.
Republicans, i.e., the Michigan Republican Party, the Michigan Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Board of Canvassers, as well as attorney’s for the newly elected Republican President, pushed back, challenging the re-count. The recount was halted for two days while the Republicans argued that Stein was not eligible for a recount because she had no chance of winning. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Republicans, making getting a recount in Michigan in the future almost impossible. The recount, before it was permanently halted, recounted 43% of Michigan’s votes. Both presidential candidates gained votes; the margin narrowed, but not enough for any candidate to change the outcome of the election.
Mr. Brewer spoke to reasons why a vote might not be counted. A voting machine might not read the vote if the ballot is filled out incorrectly. Also, a vote cannot be counted if a person 'wrote-in' an unregistered candidate. In three precincts, ballots were not recounted because precinct captains were lax in following rules ensuring ballots be kept secure. In addition, the number of ballots must match the number recorded by the machine. Brewer explained there are lots of possible innocent explanations for this having occurred in precincts all over the state. He underlined that occasional post-election audits serve a purpose, i.e., checking ballots, auditing the software, and checking for voting machine break down. While the state of Michigan is buying new machines, we need to remember that machines are subject to hacking, which is why it is important that software be checked. All three of the new machines the state is considering, do leave a paper trail.
Mr. Brewer concluded by answering questions from everyone who raised a hand, including questions pertaining to the issue of gerrymandering political districts in general, and in the state of Michigan in particular.
By Kay Keating,
GT Dems Communications Reporter
filed March 13, 2017