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Curiouser and Curiouser: Detroit Clerk Summoned to Court About Absentee Ballots

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[Image courtesy of flickr user cutedtownboi]

The City of Detroit has already had a rough election year, with all of the controversy (here and here) surrounding write-in ballots in the recent mayoral primary.

Now, as the general approaches, the county clerk has been summoned to court after allegations that absentee ballots were printed and distributed without final approval from the city election commission. The Detroit News has more:

City Clerk Janice Winfrey must appear in court Wednesday to respond to allegations that absentee ballots for the November election have been printed and distributed without the approval of the city's election commission.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard entered an order late Tuesday requiring Winfrey to appear for a 9 a.m. show-cause hearing to answer questions under oath about the printing and distribution of the ballots, union activist Robert Davis said.

Davis, of Citizens United Against Corrupt Government, along with D'Etta Wilcoxon, who is Winfrey's challenger for city clerk in the Nov. 5 election, asked the judge for a temporary restraining order on claims the ballots that Winfrey is sending out to absentee voters ballots that are "unlawful and illegal" and have not been approved by the city's election commission, as called for under state election law.

Davis said the absentee ballots were distributed after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the election on Thursday.

"The problem is, the election commission for the city had not even approved the printing of ballots or certification of the names to be placed on the November general election ballot," Davis said. "(The commission) was supposed to convene and meet to authorize the printing. They have legal counsel assigned to that commission. This is not rocket science."

The clerk's office on Tuesday directed inquiries for Winfrey to a representative of the election commission office, who could not be immediately reached.

The court has requested meeting minutes and other materials from the election commission; if it turns out that the absentee ballots were not formally approved, the city could be forced to re-print and re-send them in order for the ballots to count.

This is a story worth watching - given the intense interest in the conduct of the mayoral race (and the attendant scrutiny of the Clerk's office) this case could have a significant impact leading up to Election Day.

As always, stay tuned ...

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