Bankrupt city? Running out of common sense?

The election staff did not completely fill out write-in votes according to instructions, so a panel seems to be taking the least sensible approach, taking it out on the voters: Detroit mayor count in chaos as Wayne County refuses to certify primary results  <read>

A state election panel will have to decide who really won the Detroit mayoral primary after Wayne County election officials on Tuesday refused to certify shocking new election results, which would have invalidated about 20,000 votes and handed the primary win to Benny Napoleon instead of Mike Duggan.

The county board was debating whether to invalidate more than 20,000 write-in votes that were not recorded at polling locations using hash marks, which would cause the result of the Aug. 6 primary to be flipped — with Napoleon, the Wayne County sheriff, receiving more votes than write-in candidate Duggan…

Counters for the Wayne County Board of Canvassers were unsure of what to do with votes that did not use a method known as “hash-marking,” where votes are counted individually on poll books. The 20,000 votes at issue were entered into the books with just the numerical number of votes, instead of hash marks.

The proper way for poll workers to keep track of write-in votes is shown in a manual the state provided county boards of canvassers in July 2010. The manual shows a sample poll book with hash marks corresponding with each vote cast for a declared write-in candidate. The hash marks then are to be added up for each declared write-in candidate and a total is to be recorded in each poll book.

The manual does not give instructions if hash marks are not recorded in the poll books.

It seems to us that there are two logical solutions:

  • Most accurate: Recount the votes in question and record them properly, recalculate, and certify.
  • Likely quite accurate: Accept the totals without hashmarks, unless there is a reason to believe they are incorrect. If so, recount.

The worst possible action would be to throw the votes out and certify. That punishes the voters for actions of pollworkers and election supervisors. Defies common senses and cancels democracy.

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