A computer error led election officials in Oakland County to hand an upset victory Wednesday to a Democrat, only to switch the win back to an incumbent Republican a day later.
In Oakland County’s 15th County Commission District — representing Rochester and Rochester Hills — the initial count gave a 104-vote margin to the Democrat, Melanie Hartman, amounting to a razor-thin majority of 50.08%.
That stunned the incumbent, Adam Kochenderfer, giving him a sure sense that he’d lost in a district long deemed a Republican stronghold.
“I thought that was that,” Kochenderfer said. “Those were the results, and I said I would not seek a recount.”
But what a difference a day makes — in weather, love, and the 15th District election for Oakland County commissioner. On Thursday, Kochenderfer was stunned again, this time by a call from Oakland County’s director of elections, flipping the outcome to him.
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“Apparently, there was a technical glitch in Rochester Hills. And so I actually ended up winning by a little over 1,100 votes,” said a chuckling Kochenderfer.
The margin was 1,127 votes, to be exact. That gave him a 51.67% share of the total (with 48.23% going to his opponent, Hartman).
The fresh result buoyed the incumbent’s spirits but also had him worried about how to prevent future election errors, he said.
“I’m very grateful to the officials who caught the error, but we need to ensure that we catch these issues, or prevent them entirely,” Kochenderfer said.
“People are acting like fixing our elections is a partisan thing when it shouldn’t be partisan,” he said, adding, “we do have a very, very good clerk in Rochester Hills.”
That clerk is Tina Barton, a Republican who lost in her race for Oakland County clerk while handling the local election in Rochester Hills. Barton could not be reached for comment Thursday night. But Oakland County Director of Elections Joe Rozell said the error stemmed from a computer issue at the Rochester Hills city clerk’s office.
“A computer issue in Rochester Hills caused them to send us results for seven precincts as both precinct votes and absentee votes. They should only have been sent to us as absentee votes,” Rozell said in a text message.