Five weeks after a national scandal involving broken Detroit voting machines and ineffective poll workers, state Elections Director Chris Thomas said Wednesday evening that the city will get all new voting machines in time for the 2017 mayoral and City Council elections. But broken machines were not the biggest problem Detroit endured election night. Citing a memo he just received, Thomas said there were dozens of other problems that occurred Nov. 8. “I got an e-mail yesterday from Wayne County showing me what the issues were on (Detroit) polling places and precincts, and quite frankly, it was somewhat shocking,” he said. Thomas said his staff soon will head to Detroit to get a better understanding of why the city has such problems running elections and to find ways to help. Among the problems cited in the memo, he said: Ninety-one precinct reports were not delivered on time. County officials had to re-create missing poll books. Five precincts had no poll books, so Detroit election officials had to find voter applications and re-create the books — and hundreds of poll worksheets had either too few or too many ballots.
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, in an earlier exclusive interview, said Wednesday that the city should have already had new machines to replace the 10-year-old models, but that only the state can purchase them. She said that if Thomas didn’t authorize them, she would find a way to purchase them herself.
“We had the rollout (of new machines) in our budget,” Winfrey said. “No money was appropriated by the state. We are hopeful that we will have machines in 2017, and I suggest to you that tomorrow there will be a plan rolled out for those machines. If not, we’re going to do like we always do in this raggedy city. We’re going to make it work.”