DETROIT (AP) Absentee ballots in the city”s election were still being tallied yesterday after a problem counting absentee ballots halted the process for hours.

Paul Wong
At the City of Detroit”s vote counting headquarters, an election worker wears a protective mask and gloves as he processes absentee ballots. <br><br>AP PHOTO

Elections officials temporarily stopped their count shortly after noon Tuesday, after the state said the city failed to use software designed to identify flawed ballots.

The count resumed at 7 p.m., City Clerk Jackie Currie said.

“The votes will be counted and everybody who voted by absentee, as long as they didn”t overvote, their votes will be counted,” Mayor Dennis Archer said.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Elizabeth Boyd said elections officials expected to be finished counting the absentee ballots by noon yesterday.

Despite the counting problems, Kwame Kilpatrick defeated Gil Hill to become one of the youngest elected mayors in Detroit”s history.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Kilpatrick had 104,287 votes or 54 percent to Hill”s 88,992 votes or 46 percent.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Stephens ordered the clerk”s office to count the absentee ballots using the state-mandated software, including re-counting 13,000 ballots that already had been tabulated using an electronic scanning system.

In order to make sure every vote counts, state officials directed clerks to use software that kicks out problem ballots, allowing clerks to determine if it is a valid vote, state elections director Chris Thomas said.

The state did not order the city to stop counting absentee ballots, but told them to start using the software, he said. Regular ballots from polling places were not affected.

Flawed ballots include so-called overvotes, in which too many candidates are selected for a specific race, and ballots that are filled out by a pen or pencil that can”t be read by a machine.

Overvoting one race did not void an entire ballot, so few if any ballots would be thrown out entirely, Currie said. She did not know how many absentee ballots contained errors.

State officials found out Tuesday morning that Detroit election workers weren”t following the state”s mandate, Thomas said.

“The fact that it must be implemented is not their option,” he said.

“We have uniform standards, and we certainly intend to enforce them,” Secretary of State Candice Miller said.

Currie, who was running for re-election, said earlier that city officials started using the same procedures Tuesday that they had used during the September primary. They had no indication there was a problem until the state intervened in the middle of the count, she said.

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