5 p.m. update: Nearly 3,700 ballots, envelopes still being reconciled

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A view of Wayne County Courthouse, where voters could cast ballots early until noon Monday. File photo by Millie Martin Emery

Wayne County might go another night before election results are made public.
Bipartisan teams and the Voters Registration Office staff are painstakingly reviewing the nearly 3,700 mail-in absentee ballots cast in the 2020 election to make sure each one is counted.
Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry said the process begins when a voter requests an absentee ballot. The voter is sent an absentee ballot and a secure envelope for its return.
The voter marks their ballot and returns that ballot to the Voters Registration Office in the secure envelope.
Those envelopes are stored safely until Election Day when a bipartisan team opens each envelope.
The ballots are removed. The envelopes are counted. The ballots are scanned and counted. And then the number of ballots counted, and envelopes counted must match.
But it has been a challenge to reconcile the number of envelopes and ballots.
“We have so many mail-in ballots to go through,” Berry said. “Every one is being accounted for and each scanned.
“We just want to have the correct numbers,” Berry said.
By making sure all totals match and all votes are accounted for, Berry hopes to avoid what happened last year, when the early vote results and Election Day results were not merged together properly — an issue caused by the county’s voting software vendor — resulting in wrong vote totals being released to the public.
Although the results released on Election Day are always unofficial, with the final, official count being certified 10 days later, Berry wants to make sure there are no discrepancies between the unofficial and official results.
“We want to give you all good figures,” she said.
Berry called a halt to the counting process at 3 a.m. Wednesday and returned to it at 8 a.m.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Berry said those counting and recounting the ballots would not work as late as they did on Election Day, even if it means not finishing or releasing results until Thursday.
– By Rachel Sheeley

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