Wayne Co. Board of Canvassers asking SOS to investigate miscounted absentee ballots in Aug. primary

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers has asked the Secretary of State to investigate miscounted absentee ballots in the August primary - and to make sure it doesn't happen again in November. 

In a majority of Detroit absentee-voting precincts, recorded ballot counts did not match the number of ballots actually cast, indicating something clearly went wrong with how the ballots are tracked.

"I would be pissed. If I'm just Joe Voter, I would be pissed. I mean, to me, this is just incompetence," said William Hartmann. He's a member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. "We do a canvas and the canvas has got, it's like an audit of your checkbook," he explained. 

The problem with the August primary is that the board did certify the election but had to note discrepancies in more than 70% of absentee-voting precincts in Detroit. The discrepancies were between the number of absentee ballots cast versus the number recorded by election workers.

"When we started to balance the AV (absent voter) counting boards in Detroit, they were so messed up that there was really no way that we could balance them the way they were," Hartmann said. "One of the biggest things that we could ask for the general election is that people come and sign up and register to be precinct workers, or as they call, election inspectors."

So the board is asking Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for an investigation into what went wrong, not only with the election process of counting absentee ballots in the city of Detroit but also with the training process for a task that rakes in long hours.

"I've got to tip my hat to all the workers that were there because I was there 22 hours and so were they," said Bob Cushman. He was one of the ones who sounded the alarm there might be a problem in the location he was working at as an election challenger. 

"After 2 a.m., all of the ballots were processed to the best of my knowledge were never checked for the name and the other lesser checks that are supposed to take place," Cushman said. 

The City of Detroit said it is reaching out now to the Secretary of State and City Clerk to make sure this gets fixed immediately. "We cannot have a recurrence of these problems in November," the City said in a statement.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also tells FOX 2: "The Bureau of Elections will work with the City of Detroit to identify any errors that may have occurred in the processing of absent voter ballots and to implement any needed improvements to training procedures in advance of November."

All of this happening Friday in the backdrop of a U.S. Senate committee hearing in which the U.S. post master general vehemently defended changes being made to the postal service. 

"We've got to get to the bottom of it because we have to make sure when votes are cast, they're counted accurately and be verified. That's the very essence of a fair election," said Michigan Sen. Gary Peters.

Detroit's clerk Janice Winfrey has yet to respond to FOX 2 about the Board of Canvassers' request, or about what went wrong with absentee ballot tracking. 

The Secretary of State's office explained that what they're doing is not an investigation yet, but that's not ruled out.