August 29, 2012 - Atlas Twp.- A vote recount following the primary election has been scheduled for 9 a.m., Sept. 7 at the township hall after incumbent treasurer Ann Marie Slagle defeated challenger Beth Forys by 160 votes.
"I am challenging the election and they will recount the votes on Friday," said Forys. "After the election many of us talked and I thought I had it won. Many people could not believe how the vote turned out. We were stunned that I got beat by that big of a margin. So I decided to just do a recount to see if it comes out different. I was not comfortable with how the absentee ballots were counted," said Forys, who worked in the township office for six years.
Five 2-member teams from the Genesee Board of Canvassers will review the 839 votes (55 percent) for Slagle and the 679 votes (44 percent) tallied for Forys. The process is open to the public.
The petition filed by Forys challenged the precinct election inspectors.
"I worked in elections during my time at the township. I don't know how it's handled now, but when I worked there, absentee ballots were all thrown in a box in the clerk's office after they were received," she said. "There was no security. But maybe things have changed now."
Atlas Township treasurer primary election challenged, recount Friday In a written statement, Township Clerk Tere Onica responded to the challenge.
"Beth Forys, a member of the Kautman-Jones team for the Aug. 7, 2012 primary election lost the race for the position of treasurer. Despite receiving approximately 20 percent fewer votes than Ms. Slagle, Ms. Forys has made non-specific allegations of fraud and error against the clerk's office. Considering the clerk's office has conducted township elections for the past 12 years without error, I believe this is a waste of taxpayer dollars and undermines the integrity of the Democratic process," she said. "While sympathetic to the unsuccessful candidates, I am afraid this is a case of someone being disgruntled because things did not go their way."
If the election stands, Slagle will run unopposed in the November general election.
Genesee County Elections Supervisor Doreen Fulcher said the Genesee County Board of Canvassers will oversee the recount.
"The board of canvassers reviewed the petition by Forys and determined it's legally sufficient to schedule the recount," said Fulcher. "State law allows candidates to challenge elections."
Sometimes there are errors by those marking ballots, added Fulcher.
"But in my six years here in Genesee County the recount has never changed the outcome of an election," she said. "The voting machines used are very accurate. Because of our election law, they (voting machines) are tested and if there are any problems the machines are dealt with prior to the election.. Forys paid $10 for each of the township's four precincts and the absentee ballots—a total of $50— to have the recount happen. Some sort of recount will occur and when it's done the township will pay the cost for the board of canvassers to attend plus any other costs associated with the process."
The recount is the first for the township in recent years; however, in 2008 a recount was requested following a possible tabulator malfunction or a possible ballot printing error, according to a petition filed by then Councilmember Patricia Wartella to the office of the county clerk on Nov. 7, 2008. About 10 days later councilmen Ralph Morey and David Lucik, along with village resident and council candidate Norman Bass, filed the objection on three issues: the individual requesting the recount received the most votes and therefore it's unnecessary to change the results; Norm Bass said he lost the election and felt the results were correct; and as a group, the result was fair and the recount would be costly to the village.
At issue in the challenge was candidate Greg Tankersley, who ran for council and lost to Lucik by only seven votes. The board of canvassers convened on Dec. 2, 2008 and heard testimony from several people, including candidates from the council election. They denied the recount due to a lack of necessity.
The recount is one of three in Genesee County following the August 2012 primary.