Jocelyn Howard, standing at center, requested a recount of some precincts in the primary race for the Warren City Council’s two at-large seats. Observer Michael Howard (no relation), standing at left, watches as the recount is conducted.

Jocelyn Howard, standing at center, requested a recount of some precincts in the primary race for the Warren City Council’s two at-large seats. Observer Michael Howard (no relation), standing at left, watches as the recount is conducted.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Recount requested by at-large candidate doesn’t change results

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published August 31, 2023


WARREN — A requested recount of some precincts from Warren’s at-large City Council primary election happened on Aug. 30 but yielded no change in the results.

Jocelyn Howard, one of the at-large candidates in the Aug. 8 primary, requested a vote recount that was conducted by Macomb County elections officials on the Macomb Community College campus in Warren.

“We garnered some movement but not enough to change the outcome of the race,” said Howard. “We are trying to say the race is close and engage in what we can do to make sure the vote is accurate.”

Howard expressed her reasons for filing for a recount.

“I would like to start by saying, I am not alleging anything, neither am I accusing anything. My whole thing is to protect the integrity of the election. I was within 1 percentage point,” said Howard. “I spoke to some election officials, and they said sure, that is within the margin of error to request a recount.”

Howard added, “I was also contacted by our state Sen. Paul Wojno. He was able to share with me that in one of the precincts, that there were some additional ballots counted. So, my position is, this is what the recount does and then we’ll just go from there.”   

There are two at-large seats on the Warren City Council, and both are up for reelection this year. The primary’s top four candidates move on to the general election ballot in November.

The top vote-getter was Dave Dwyer, who came in first with 5,502 votes, which was 17.0% of the votes cast in the race. Donna Kaczor Caumartin came in second with 5,214 votes (16.2%). Incumbent Angela Rogensues was third with 4,808 votes (14.9%) and Marie Adkins was fourth with 3,201 votes (9.9%). According to the Macomb County Clerk’s office, there were more than 30,000 votes cast in the race.

Howard came in fifth with 2,939 votes (9.1%), a difference of 262 votes and less than 1 percentage point from the fourth position.

According to the Macomb County Clerk’s Office, to get a recount, you have to file a petition and pay the cost for the recount. The cost is determined by a formula which results in paying $25, $125 or $250 per precinct. The office said Howard is paying $125 per precinct.

Warren has 53 precincts, according to the city’s website. Howard had 34 precincts recounted. In each precinct there are two counts, the absentee ballot count and the same day election count.  According to election officials, Howard had 31 precinct absentee counts and three election day precinct counts, which made up the 34 total precincts. If the recount included all the precincts, it would be the 53 same day election precincts and 53 absentee ballot precincts, for a total of 106.

“We did precinct 40 because that is where the additional ballots were counted. Then we looked at where we were close and selected those precincts,” Howard said of the decision to request recounts in certain precincts.

“I was told today (Aug. 30) by the Board of Canvassers, the tabulator was not reset and it (the absentee ballots) ran twice,” Howard said.

“This was just a sampling of votes. To do (a recount) of the entire city would have been cost prohibitive,” Howard said. “This recount cost $5000. A total recount would cost more than $15,000.”

At the recount there were several tables of counters who worked in teams. There were those who read the ballot, those who counted the votes and those who tallied the votes.

During a recount, if the tallies do not match, they have to start all over.

Michael Howard, who ran for Warren City Council in District 2 and is no relation to Jocelyn Howard, was one of the observers at the recount.

“When it was determined there would be a recount of the at-large vote, each candidate in that race could have as many as 10 observers representing them,” Michael Howard said. “I am representing Angela Rogensues.”

The recount began at 8 a.m. in the Sports and Expo Center and before 9 a.m. Michael Howard said, “They’ve already messed up. And they have to start the process all over again.”

He was referring to the table of counters whose tallies did not match.

An election official explained that starting all over again is part of the system of checks and balances ensured by the recount process. When there are two candidates to vote for in a race, it takes the readers, checkers and talliers time to get their rhythm. By the afternoon, things were running smoothly, said the election official.

After checking back with some of the observers around noon, Michael Howard said, “The recount has really been handled well.”