EUREKA TOWNSHIP — After Eureka Township election results were challenged, the incumbent Democrat supervisor remains.
Candidate Republican Les Lillie petitioned to challenge the results after hearing of difficulties that took place while counting the votes.
“When the clerk called to tell me I lost, she first said I lost by 19 votes. But, because of a snafu (that occurred while counting) I lost by 21,” Lillie said.
Although Lillie said he wished the recount would have had a different outcome, he is happy he did it.
“I did it for my own peace of mind,” he said. “I did what I thought was necessary.”
Supervisor Laura Shears declined comment.
The Eureka Township supervisor election was the only race to be challenged in Montcalm County.
Getting a recount
Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard said once the Board of Canvassers certified the election, which they did on Nov. 14, a candidate can petition for a recount stating allegations on why he or she would like the recount.
Lillie filed the petition on Nov. 14, citing fraud or error in the counting process.
Millard said the challenger in the recount process has to pay $10 per precinct that would need to be recounted. Lillie had to pay $20 as there are two precincts in Eureka Township.
“Should he win (the recount), he will get the money back,” said Millard during the recounting process Wednesday.
Lillie lost by 21 votes to Shears in the Nov. 6 election. Through the recount, he was looking for at least 21 errors to win the recount However, the county’s Board of Canvassers only found one error.
There are no penalties set in place for the township for miscounted ballots if Lillie would have won the recount.
Montcalm County Board of County Canvassers Chairwoman Jackie Champlin called the recount meeting to open at 9 a.m. Wednesday. She walked through the steps that would take place to make sure the recount was done accurately.
With two precincts needing to be recounted, canvassers broke into two teams of two to tackle the job. Champlin and Gail Hamblin managed one precinct while Sheila Sharrow and Ann Morse did the other.
“There are 973 ballots for precinct one and 990 ballots for precinct two,” Champlin said.
The first step for canvassers was to make sure ballot containers matched the poll seal book, based on a number identification. Once that was confirmed, the two groups had to count the ballots in their containers to make sure they matched the total number of ballots —working in ballot groups of 10 and having the numbers checked. The ballots then had to be counted a second time after being divided into four piles – Lillie, Shears, straight ticket and write-ins.
“We have to count the ballots about three times,” Champlin said.
While canvassers counted the precincts, people who were representing Lillie, including Cindy Lillie and Deb Carnahan, were allowed to closely watch the counts and formally challenge something they saw might be wrong. However, they were not allowed to touch the ballots.
One vote was challenged by Lillie’s representatives, who claimed there was not a bubble filled in legally. Canvassers looked over the ballot and determined it was a legal fill in and the ballot would be counted.
Lillie gained one vote as a ballot was marked straight ticket for Republican with a write in for township supervisor that was not a valid name, so Millard said the vote automatically went to Lillie.
While looking at duplicate ballots — ones that had to be redone by a township official because they were ruined —canvassers noticed some votes that were not accurately reported on the new ballot for some of the proposals.
“It does not change anything for this recount,” said Millard, noting the township was notified and steps will be put into place to make sure the incident doesn’t happen in the future.