MERIDIAN TWP., Mich. — Whether to allow recreational marijuana shops in Meridian Township or not was on the ballot in August, and the proposal failed meaning the shops would be allowed.
But the debate isn't over yet, as an Okemos resident has filed a recount petition.
According to the official summary election results, the proposal failed by 12 votes, ultimately allowing recreation marijuana shops in the township.
“The gap was 14 votes prior to the Board of Canvassers certifying the results, and then now, the gap is 12," said Assistant Township Manager Dan Opsommer. "It's my understanding that one precinct was recounted, which resulted in the change of two votes.”
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum confirmed a recount petition for the proposal was filed last week.
“It's permitted under law," Byrum said. "So that petitioner had to pay $25 per precinct. There were 22 in-person precincts and 22 absentee ballot precincts so 44 precincts. So that petitioner paid just over $1,000 to start the recount process.”
Opsommer said they weren't entirely surprised at the recount petition.
“When everybody saw the narrow nature of the election, I think everybody was suspecting that a recount might be requested by one of the parties," Opsommer said. "So nobody was surprised. You know, recounts, there are standard triggers for statewide recounts, if it's within 2000 votes, you know, there's automatic recounts, but at the local level, we have nothing like that.”
However, the cost to file the petition doesn't cover the costs of the actual recount. That cost will go to the township.
“I estimate this recount will cost Meridian Township about $13,000,” Byrum said.
Byrum said the township is responsible for the $13,000 because it was a municipal question on the ballot.
She says that money will go towards recount workers.
“44 people working two days, plus the Board of Canvassers, that's for two Democrats and two Republicans, that will hold the recount, that's about $960 for two days," Byrum said. "Plus law enforcement. I'm going to need someone to guard the ballots when I'm not there. Plus food, I have found that recount workers work quicker when I feed them and give them caffeine.”
The recount workers will hand count each ballot.
“In Michigan, we hand count for the recounts. So it should be an easier recount from the candidate recounts that we've done in that it's a yes or no," Byrum said. "So the likelihood of human error is significantly less because it's a yes or no, they don't have to look at straight party voting, invalid writings or anything like that.”
Byrum said she doesn't expect the recount to change the outcome.
“We test the computers before they are issued," Byrum said. "They're tested at the local level to make sure those tabulators are reading the ballots properly. And further, this, it's a large margin. It doesn't look large. It doesn't sound large, 12 votes, but it is quite a bit.”
Byrum said, before they can schedule a date for the recount, all votes must be certified by the Board of Canvassers, which she expects will happen Friday.
Once that happens, any statewide candidate has 48 hours to file for a statewide recount. If that doesn't happen, then she can move forward planning the Meridian Township recount.
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