A Wayne County Circuit judge denied a request today to stop the Detroit City Clerk’s office from sending out absentee ballots. Judge Patricia Fresard heard arguments today in response to a challenge filed by city clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon, the group Citizens United Against Corrupt Government and activist Robert Davis. They argued that the Detroit Election Commission should have held an open meeting to approve the absentee ballots for the November election after they were printed and before Winfrey’s office put them in the mail. The group on Tuesday filed a request for a temporary restraining order halting the process, which Fresard denied. Fresard noted that there was no claim that anything was actually incorrect on the ballots. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey explained that she started mailing out the bulk of the 30,000 absentee ballots on Friday. She said the commission approved the names on the ballots prior to the primary in August, and she began printing them around Sept. 17 to ensure those in the military received them in time to vote.
But the group’s lawyer, Andrew Paterson of Novi, questioned whether the commission needed to meet again to ratify the absentee ballots, and he suggested that new absentee ballots would need to be mailed out.
“The whole election is at risk. It isn’t simply the absentee ballots that are at risk,” he said.
But Fresard, calling such arguments speculative, said a second set of absentee ballots would only confuse voters and she said the motion itself appeared to be putting the election at risk.
“It almost appears that you’re asking me to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” she said.
Winfrey said she’s authorized to mail the ballots as clerk and chair of the commission, comparing the printing and mailing process to routine duties such as checking the voting machines and purging voter files.