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Recount set for cop tax vote



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November 24, 2010 - Jack Curtis wants a recount regarding Oxford Township's recently failed police tax increase and he's going to get it.

"We need good police protection to maintain this good community," he said.

A recount is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 29 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center (2100 Pontiac Lake Rd.) in Waterford.

Voters failed the proposed five-year, 0.75-mill increase by a margin of 2,885 to 2,883 in the Nov. 2 election.

Based on current budget projections, the township is facing the prospect of having to cut up to five of its 15 Oakland County Sheriff's officers.

Given all the complimentary things Curtis had to say about Oxford's parks, schools, library, fire department and downtown area, he can't imagine not having adequate police protection to keep the community safe and secure.

"For me, it's the final piece in the puzzle," he said. "We can't let our police department go by the wayside for 0.75 mills."

In Curtis' opinion, all it would take for people to pay the extra $75 a year (on average) for police services is one less Friday night out or one less trip up north.

"We just need to make sure that this vote was counted correctly," said Curtis, who serves on the township's planning commission. "Something's not right."

It was a difference of 29 votes that sparked Curtis' concern as to whether everything was counted accurately.

A total of 5,768 voters cast ballots concerning the proposed police tax increase.

However, a total of 5,797 residents voted on the separate proposition seeking a straight renewal of the police millage.

Voters approved the three-year, 2.9152-mill renewal by a margin of 4,045 to 1,752.

Curtis also noticed that a large number of folks didn't cast a 'yes' or 'no' vote for either police tax proposition.

A total of 6,064 voters in the unincorporated township (outside the village) participated in the Nov. 2 election. Based on that number, it appears 267 didn't vote on the renewal and 296 didn't vote on the increase.

County Elections Director Joe Rozell cated there "are really only two instances where you see vote totals change" as a result of a recount.

One involves a voter who made only a "marginal mark" in the 'yes' or 'no' oval and the machine didn't initially read it because it wasn't completely filled in.

The other involves a voter who originally marked 'yes' or 'no' by mistake, then tried to correct it by crossing out their initial vote and filling in the other oval.

"The machine doesn't know that the voter tried to correct that. It just sees both ovals are marked and it considers that race over-voted, so it's not counted," Rozell explained.

If the recount does yield a change in the final vote tallies, there's no guarantee the millage increase will pass.

"It's just as possible there's two additional 'no' votes," Rozell noted. "The important thing is everything will be examined and we'll make sure, pass or fail, the outcome is the way it's supposed to be."

All of the votes will be recounted by tabulating machines.

Any ballot that experiences an issue while being processed will be examined by the county Board of Canvassers, according to Rozell. The board will then determine the disposition of each of those ballots.

Rozell said Curtis has the right to appoint "challengers" to be present at each tabulator. These people can observe the process and challenge how the board decides to count a ballot.

Curtis is paying $120 out of his own pocket for this recount. That's $10 for each of the township's six precincts, plus an additional $10 for the absentee ballots in each precinct.

According to Rozell, the township will be billed for the remainder of the recount's cost, which he estimated to be approximately $1,500.

The public is more than welcome to attend the recount.

"They'll be a designated public area where they can watch the whole process," Rozell said.

indi"The machine doesn't know that the voter tried to correct that, it just sees both ovals are marked and it considers that race over-voted, so it's not counted," Rozell explained.

If the recount does yield a change in the number of votes, there's no guarantee the millage increase will pass..

"It's just as possible there's two additional 'no' votes," Rozell said. "The important thing is everything will be examined and we'll make sure, pass or fail, the outcome is the way it's supposed to be."

All of the votes will be recounted by tabulating machines.

Any ballot that experiences an issue while being processed will be examined by the county Board of Canvassers, according to Rozell. The board will then determine the disposition of each of those ballots.

Rozell said Curtis has the right to appoint "challengers" to be present at each tabulator. These people can observe the process and challenge how the board decides to count a ballot.

Curtis is paying $120 out of his own pocket for this recount. That's $10 for each of the township's six precincts, plus an additional $10 for the absentee ballots in each precinct.

According to Rozell, the township will be billed for the remainder of the recount's cost, which he estimated to be approximately $1,500.

The public is welcome to attend the recount.

"They'll be a designated public area where they can watch the whole process," Rozell said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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