A Wayne County judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey, saying there’s “no evidence” her office mishandled absentee ballots or violated state law in last week’s general election. The lawsuit was brought by election challengers who said Winfrey’s office used copies of absentee vote envelopes, rather than original envelopes with ballots, to verify voter information for about 1200 absentee votes dropped off at the clerk’s office on Election Day. The plaintiffs said that violated the state manual for elections officials, as well as state law.
They worried that conducting the verification process for absentee votes—which involves matching signatures on returned ballots with ballot applications, and checking the voter’s name against precinct records and the state’s Qualified Voter File—entirely behind closed doors opened the process up to potential fraud.
The plaintiffs asked the court to disqualify all absentee ballots from the vote count, claiming it’s now impossible to determine which ballots were verified using copies and which weren’t.
But in arguments before Judge Robert Colombo on Friday, city of Detroit lawyer James Noseda, arguing on Winfrey’s behalf, called suggestions of fraud “outrageous.”