Recount to settle Allegan County prosecutor election

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — The race for Allegan County’s prosecutor will be decided in a recount. 

Attorney Mike Villar, who ran against incumbent Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch in the Republican primary last month, petitioned for the recount about a week after the August election. 

It will begin Wednesday morning at the Allegan Township Hall. Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski told News 8 it is expected to take three days or longer.

While working to preview the recount, News 8 learned the county’s elections coordinator, Anne Conn, is on administrative leave. Genetski could not confirm if that was related to the August primary. News 8 is working to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her leave. Genetski said it doesn’t impact the recount given canvassers oversee the process. 

Challenger Villar lost, according to the unofficial results, by less than a few dozen votes. Koch received 8,864 votes to Villar’s 8,847. He also lost to Koch in 2018.

Koch told News 8 Tuesday that the results of the race had been certified by the state, but News 8 could not immediately independently confirm that.

The prosecutor posted to her campaign’s Facebook page a day before Villar petitioned for the recount.

“The confidence Allegan County voters placed in me through their votes is an honor and is humbling at the same time,” the prosecutor said in a Aug. 11 video message, acknowledging the results weren’t yet official. 

The incumbent also said a win ensures “politics of rumor and smear have no place here” and that she’s committed to rebuilding trust now that the campaign is over.

Villar has alleged correspondence he obtained and posted to his campaign website between Koch and a sitting judge is evidence of corruption within the prosecutor’s office. 

In his petition for the recount, Villar wrote, “I have good faith belief that I would have a reasonable chance of winning the election but for the fact that the canvass of the vote cast is in error.”

He cited 350 to 700 spoiled ballots because of crossover voting, meaning voters didn’t abide by the straight-ticket requirement, and “that there were irregularities in obtaining the vote counts in Fillmore Township…”

“…This is especially disconcerting as I was leading in the reported voting until the Fillmore vote count was reported at 4:00 a.m. on the day after the election,” the petition went on to say.

Genetski confirmed Fillmore Township was previously deemed unrecountable by canvassers and therefore any change in that count won’t be eligible toward the recount Wednesday. 

“When the Board of Canvassers went to certify the election, they reviewed the situation in Fillmore Township, they compared the poll book up against the tabulator tape and noticed that the two numbers were out of balance,” the county clerk said. 

He said an increase in absentee ballots led to jams in the machine, making the tabulations difficult on election day. 

“One of the canvassers felt the machine should’ve been shut down and the entire ballot bunch should’ve been reprocessed or run through later on,” he explained. 

That did not happen, however. 

Wednesday’s recount timeline will depend on how many challenges representatives for both candidates make to individual ballots.