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Delta County canvassers switch gears, vote to certify recall election results

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Delta County canvassers switch gears, vote to certify recall election results

May 17, 2024 | 9:08 pm ET
By Jon King
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Delta County canvassers switch gears, vote to certify recall election results
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Delta County Board of Commissioners meeting, April 4, 2024 | Screenshot

After initially refusing to certify the results of a recent recall election, officials in Delta County have reversed course and avoided a showdown with state election officials.

The Delta County Board of Canvassers made headlines when they deadlocked 2-2 on certifying results of the May 7 recall election in which three Republican members of the board of commissioners were removed from office by nearly 3-1 margins. 

GOP members of Delta County canvassing board refuse to certify recall results

However, following a meeting Friday evening, all four commissioners voted to certify

In the initial vote, Bonnie Hakkola and fellow Republican LeeAnne Oman cited, without evidence, irregularities in the vote totals based solely on the similarity across all three races.

Unofficial results indicated that Kelli Van Ginhoven, a Democrat, and independent candidate Matt Jensen, received 72% of the votes to defeat incumbent Commissioners David Moyle and Robert Petersen respectively, while Myra Croasdell, also an independent, beat incumbent Robert Barron with 73%.

Van Ginhoven previously told the Michigan Advance that the failure to certify at the first meeting was disappointing on several levels.

“What they’re doing is putting doubt in our local election people, which is sad because these are our family and our neighbors and our friends and their honesty and integrity is being questioned by these people with absolutely no merit,” she said.

The initial failure also prompted State Elections Director Jonathan Brater on Thursday to send a letter to the board reminding the canvassers of their obligations as spelled out in both state election law and in the Michigan Constitution that certification is to be based solely on the returns from precincts and absent voter counting boards and any corrected returns.

“The Constitution and Michigan Election Law do not authorize boards of county canvassers to refuse to certify election results based on claims made by third parties of alleged election irregularities, or a general desire to conduct election investigations,” said Brater.

Delta County canvassers switch gears, vote to certify recall election results
Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater, Dec. 13, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Brater further noted that the canvassers had reviewed the election returns and that the tabulator tapes matched the reported results, thus there were “no statutory or constitutional grounds to fail to perform the duties of the Board.” He then cited a section of Michigan Election Law that states an official who willfully fails to perform their duty would face the possibility of being charged with a misdemeanor count.

Another consequence of failing to certify was saddling Delta County with the costs to transport the election material to Lansing so that the State Board of Canvassers could convene and provide certification, Brater said.

However, with Friday’s vote, that won’t be necessary. 

The recalled county commissioners will now have 48 hours to ask for a recount, a process that would also be handled by the county canvassing board.