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Posted on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

Yousef Rabhi gains 1 vote in recount, officially wins Washtenaw County Board race by 2 votes

By Ryan J. Stanton

It's been a long three weeks since election night for Yousef Rabhi, who won a Washtenaw County board primary battle by a razor-thin, one-vote margin.

After a recount Thursday, the Ann Arbor resident can now rest assured that he's officially won by not one, but two votes.


Yousef Rabhi

"Good god is it a relief," he said after election officials finished tallying results. "I feel relieved that the primary is behind us, and we can start thinking about November."

Ann Arbor resident Mike Fried asked for the recount after losing by one vote to Rabhi in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary race for the 11th District seat on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.

Unofficial results from election night showed Fried pulled 997 votes, while Rabhi had 998. LuAnne Bullington had 108 votes, and Alice Ralph had 281.

During the recount, Rabhi picked up one vote and Ralph lost one. The recount cost Fried $10 per precinct, and there were 16 precincts.

"On election night, it felt good, but I couldn't be too celebratory because I knew there would be a recount," Rabhi said of his one-vote win. "Now I feel like I won, it's official, I watched them sign the paper — and it's two votes now instead of one, which makes me feel twice as good."

Rabhi, who celebrated his victory Thursday night at Old Town Tavern in Ann Arbor, will take on Republican Joe Baublis in the November general election. Both men are seeking the seat being vacated by Democrat Jeff Irwin, who has represented the 11th District for the past decade and is now running for the state House.

Rabhi, a University of Michigan student and community activist, is heavily favored to win the seat in November. Not only is the 11th District largely Democratic, but the Republican opponent he faces has attracted negative publicity recently for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run crash that injured a teenage pedestrian.

"I think we should do fine," Rabhi said. "But it's a democracy, it's an election, and I'm planning on getting out there and knocking on doors. I'm still going to be out there putting up yard signs and talking to folks."

082610_NEWS_Ballott Box_MRM_02.jpg

Election officials retrieve a set of ballots from Ann Arbor Township Hall on Thursday after a mixup that slowed the recount.

Melanie Maxwell |

Fried posted a message on his website after Thursday's recount, thanking his supporters and congratulating Rabhi for his win. He pledged to give Rabhi his full support in the upcoming election against Baublis, saying that the primary without question points out the importance of each person's vote.

"I am, of course, disappointed that I was not victorious," he said. "But I plan to continue my efforts to improve the quality of life for those living in Washtenaw County, and to continue my involvement with organizations that help those in need and that work to build a better future for all of us."

Based on the number of ballots seen Thursday where the only vote cast was for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, Fried said he could only conclude that a number of Democrats voted in the Republican primary. He said he wished they instead had participated in their own party's primary.

Several hours into Thursday's recount, a ballot box mixup caused a bit of drama when election officials realized they had received the wrong set of ballots from Ann Arbor Township. 

Witnesses said election officials realized they needed another set that was locked away inside the township hall and had trouble tracking down someone from the township with a key to access the ballots.

There was mention at one point of possibly getting the sheriff's office involved to break down a door to get to the ballots, but they eventually were retrieved without having to go that route.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

Congrats to Yousef Rabhi! Our community is a better place with people like that in leadership positions!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

Yousef Rabhi's mother, Peggy, was a key supporter of mayoral candidate Pat Lesko. Yousef has been active in Peaceworks and, in fact, was one of its directors. I hope his example encourages more students to run for public office.

David Cahill

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

Congratulations, Yousef! You ran the most efficient campaign possible - just enough to win by the narrowest of margins. Why do more than was necessary? 8-)


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

"Community activist" was once a prestigious title. Apparently now it is demonized and used as a slur. I'm happy for Rabhi, he's an example of someone in the younger generation who not only talks about what he feels is needed to help his community, he gets out and helps motivate people to actually do it.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : noon

Yes!  Rabhi doubles his margin of victory. The impact here of the Snyder effect is fascinating, of course, since it exactly counters the combined Ralph and Bullington effect. As a worthwhile bonus, it even leaves Yousef with two whole votes to the good. The drift of numerous centrist Democrats to support the the lone Republican semi-moderate on the other side of the primary ballot was just enough to overcome the siphoning away of Rabhi's base of support by Ralph and Bullington. The duo fell just a tiny bit shy of successfully heaving a wrench into the works and delivering victory to Fried.

Anne Bannister

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Congratulations, Yousef! You are a role-model for all the young people thinking of more community involvement!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Just what we need another " community activist". I wonder if there was any "hanging chad" or any other funny stuff going on like the Bush/Gore election in Florida? After all,community activist are known to make people do things they normally would not do!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor once had a mayoral election that wound up a tie. The winner (Wheeler) was decided by a coin flip.

Kim Kachadoorian

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 5:47 a.m.

When people tell me they don't vote because one vote doesn't make a difference - I point them to instances like this - 1 or 2 votes decides the race. Voting is a right we need to always take very seriously. Congrats to Yousef.