Detroit City Clerk challenger Garlin Gilchrist seeks recount after narrow defeat

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Detroit City Clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist says he will seek a recount in the election he lost by about 1,500 votes.

Gilchrist was beat out on Nov. 7 by incumbent Janice Winfrey, who is going on her fourth term. Winfrey received 50.5 percent of the vote to Gilchrist's 49.

Gilchrist says reports of problems with absentee voting prompted him to request the second look.

"We’ve heard many stories from absentee voters about chaos and confusion with their applications and their ballots," he said in a statement. "Whether it was getting a second [absentee] application in the mail, ballots they were told they didn’t apply for, or duplicate confirmations that their ballot was received by the Clerk’s office, there was enough confusion to have concerns about the process and how these votes were counted."

On Nov. 8, Elections Director Daniel Baxter told the Detroit Free Press that his office had received no complaints from absentee voters.

Gilchrist says he is seeking a recount of all 100 absent voter counting boards and some precincts. The absentee recount alone is expected to cost $12,500. A source familiar with a fundraising effort for the recount says Gilchrist has raised $30,000. The recount will be conducted by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

Winfrey told WDET earlier this month that she believes the recount will not find any significant differences in the voter tally.

“You’ll never find 1,400 votes. You won’t find 10 votes,” Winfrey said. ”But if that’s how they want to spend their money, they have plenty of it, they are entitled.”

Following voter discrepancies in last year's presidential election, Gilchrist ran a campaign focused on themes of transparency and accountability, and says the recount is indicative of his commitment to those principles.

"I think it’s important that Detroit voters know what happened with their ballots after they voted in this election," he said. "Increasing trust in the process is key to increasing voter turnout."

Before running for clerk, Gilchrist was the technology director for civic community engagement in the Duggan administration. He also used to serve as the national campaign director for Moveon.org.


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