BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
BEULAH — Eight absentee ballots that turned up in a desk drawer prompted one of four upcoming recounts in Benzie County.
Challenger Glen Rineer went to bed on election night with what he thought was a six-vote victory over incumbent Anne Damm for county commission District 4, an area that covers Benzonia Township.
Two days later Rineer learned township officials had discovered eight misplaced, uncounted ballots.
Republican Rineer then had to wait until the following week before the county board of canvassers opened and counted those ballots.
Damm, a Democrat, picked up five votes, while Rineer earned one. Another ballot didn't include a vote for either candidate; the other was a spoiled ballot.
"It's been a dang roller coaster and I'm getting a little weary of waiting for the thing to be decided one way or the other," Rineer said. "I don't know how you can lose ballots like that, but the ballots were cast and the people had their say and at the end of that I'm ahead by two."
There's no guarantee candidates will have an immediate answer on Monday when a hand recount begins at 9 a.m. It would take just one miscounted vote to knot the race, Rineer said.
Ties are broken in Benzie County by drawing slips of paper from a hat.
Damm did not return a reporter's calls comment.
The other recounts, all in township races, aren't nearly as close.
Republican Lance Clabeaux will need a swing of nine votes to upset incumbent Democrat Paul Beechraft for Inland Township supervisor.
Democrat Chelsie Tanner needs to overcome a 13-vote win by Republican Matt Emery to become supervisor in Joyfield Township, where a squabble over wind turbine and helicopter landing pads dominates locals' conversations.
The biggest leap for the recount involves the race for Homestead Township treasurer, where Democrat Calvin Garber lost by 231 votes to Republican Shelley Rosa.
"Garber is claiming mechanical malfunction, which is his right," said Dawn Olney, Benzie County clerk. "If there was something wrong with the machines we'll find it on the recount."