Onaway, RC candidates request election recount

ROGERS CITY – Two candidates in Presque Isle County are requesting a recount after the Nov. 5 election, one in Onaway and another in Rogers City.

Onaway City Commissioner Jessie Horrocks was unseated in a recall by a single vote, taking 114 to Roger Marsh’s 115, according to preliminary vote counts. She was elected to a new term starting next year on the same ballot. In Rogers City, Mayor Pro Tem Deb Greene came in third in a field of four mayoral candidates.

Both filed their recount petitions this week, County Clerk Ann Marie Main said. All affected candidates had to be notified within seven days of the filing, although none had indicated they would object as of Thursday. Now, the county must convene the Board of Canvassers to give the ballots another look.

“The soonest it could be is (Nov. 25),” she said. “It depends on if I can get all (four) of those members together by then.”

For Horrocks, the board would only look at vote totals for the recall portion of Onaway’s ballot, Main said.

If the board can’t meet by Nov. 27, Horrocks is willing to sit out until January, she said. She asked Main to see if the recall process could be halted, and originally planned to let her recall defeat stand.

“I guess there was some pressure from a lot of people saying that I should” ask for a recount, she said. “I talked to a couple fellow commissioner, and they said there’s no reason why not, it was only one vote.”

In the event of a tie, Horrocks and Marsh could have to resort to an unusual solution, Onaway City Clerk Kelli Stockwell said. The city had a tie vote following a recount in a past election, and the two candidates had to draw slips of paper from a hat. Some said “elected,” while others said “not elected.” Joe Libby, the original winner, drew a slip that said “not elected,” so challenger Mel Perkins became city commissioner.

The state’s Bureau of Elections provides instructions on how to deal with a tie vote, Main said.

Of the 921 votes cast for Rogers City mayor, Greene took 197 to Sobeck’s 375, according to preliminary numbers. She declined to comment Thursday on her decision to petition for a recount, but said one of the city’s ballot counting machines malfunctioned on election day.

“One machine quit entirely,” she said. “It said there were 41,000 write-in votes.”

County-wide, there are 10,853 registered voters including Rogers City, according to numbers from the Michigan Secretary of State.

Rogers City Clerk Terri Koss said one of the voting machines did malfunction, but the vote totals should be accurate as reported. In one of the precincts, a machine apparently worked fine all day until it was time to print out totals. Something must have jammed, and it gave an erroneous count. Precinct workers were able to use another machine.

“The ballots were refed in groups of 25 by precinct workers and hand counted to make sure each one was accounted for and fed through,” she said.

A repairman was on standby at the county courthouse on election night, and arrived within five minutes after the malfunction was discovered, Koss said. Each ballot counter is covered by a repair warranty, and there’s also a spare, as the city formerly had three precincts. This backup came in handy in a past election when one ballot counter gave out early in the day.

Main estimated it will cost $250 to $300 to recount the votes, with each city footing its portion of the costs, she said. The petitioner must pay $10 per precinct.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.