A civil rights group is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate how two petition collectors for U.S. Rep. John Conyers were handled when they were registered to vote by the Detroit City Clerk’s office. Discrepancies surrounding when the two were registered to vote led Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett to tentatively invalidate 314 petition signatures they collected for Conyers’ re-election campaign. If the signatures remain disqualified, Conyers, the longest-serving African American in Congress, could be thrown off the Aug. 5 primary ballot. The Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, said he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, to look into the inconsistencies in the matter. On Friday, Garrett said she preliminarily has disqualified the signatures collected by Tiara Willis-Pittman, 19, and Daniel Pennington, 23, of Detroit.
“The U.S. Department of Justice can play a role in making sure that the voting rights of Detroiters are upheld,” Williams said. “How can you admit that your office gave people bad raised sealed forms validating they were registered to vote one day with your signature on it, come back a day later and then say they weren’t registered? That requires the eyes of the federal government, FBI and the United States Department of Justice.”
In question were 314 signatures collected by Willis-Pittman and Pennington, 23, of Detroit.
Wayne County Elections Director Delphine Oden said Wednesday that Willis-Pittman and Pennington appeared in the database as being registered in December. On Thursday, a Detroit News check found the dates of registration listed as April 28.