The state Board of Canvassers voted Tuesday to certify election results from Detroit’s Aug. 6 primary election after staffers reviewed write-in ballots and calculated totals that differed vastly from Wayne County numbers. Michigan Bureau of Elections workers spent days re-tabulating write-in ballots from 385 of Detroit’s 614 precincts after Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers declined to certify results because of questions surrounding the way mayoral write-in votes were initially counted. In some precincts, poll workers did not use hash marks to count write-in votes, leading the County Clerk’s office to seek to disqualify thousands of votes and calling mayoral candidate Mike Duggan’s overwhelming write-in victory into question. The state unsealed ballot containers and reviewed votes from precincts where there were discrepancies between the county’s vote summary and statements of votes prepared by elections inspectors.
They found that Duggan, a former Wayne County Prosecutor who will face Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the Nov. 5 general election, did indeed take first place with 48,716 votes. Napoleon came in second with 28,391 votes.
“This process has stopped the most massive disenfranchise in the history of this state,” said Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas..
“It is clear that 24,000 thousands voters in the city of Detroit’s vote would have been discounted… because of hash marks. What this board did, what this board agreed to, was to correct a problem that should not have occurred.”
A lawsuit filed last week questioned the state’s legal authority to open the ballot boxes and an Ingham County judge issued a temporary restraining order against certification. But the state Court of Appeals on Friday vacated that order, calling the issue “moot” because the re-tabulation had already been completed.
“What the Michigan Court of Appeals did not say is ‘We are not addressing this matter on its merits,'” said D. Etta Wilcoxon, a candidate for city clerk who filed the lawsuit.
“The court failed us in that regard.”