City voters can now request an absentee ballot through their smartphones, an initiative called “historic” Tuesday by the Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson and City Clerk Janice Winfrey. Detroit will now begin accepting such absentee ballot requests. Similar efforts in about three other municipalities will be unveiled next week, Johnson said. These localities in Michigan will join Arizona, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois and some municipalities in California that allow absentee ballots to be requested online. Other states such as Alaska, Georgia and Wisconsin allow voters to make requests via email, Johnson said.
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.
City Clerk Janice Winfrey must appear in court Wednesday to respond to allegations that absentee ballots for the November election have been printed and distributed without the approval of the city’s election commission. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard entered an order late Tuesday requiring Winfrey to appear for a 9 a.m. show-cause hearing to answer questions under oath about the printing and distribution of the ballots, union activist Robert Davis said. Davis, of Citizens United Against Corrupt Government, along with D’Etta Wilcoxon, who is Winfrey’s challenger for city clerk in the Nov. 5 election, asked the judge for a temporary restraining order on claims the ballots that Winfrey is sending out to absentee voters ballots that are “unlawful and illegal” and have not been approved by the city’s election commission, as called for under state election law. Davis said the absentee ballots were distributed after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the election on Thursday.
Michigan: Detroit’s mayoral primary certified; decertification, recount efforts begin | The Detroit News
The Board of State Canvassers unanimously voted Tuesday to certify Detroit’s primary election results and declare former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan the top vote-getter in the Aug. 6 contest. The results were certified by the two Democrats and two Republicans, but an attorney indicated there will be an effort next week to decertify the mayoral primary election results. The state’s tally shows Duggan with 48,716 votes or 51.7 percent of the vote to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon’s 28,391 votes or 30.1 percent. The state stepped into the primary vote-counting controversy when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers didn’t certify the vote counts of the county clerk or Detroit clerk. But Tuesday’s certification of the primary vote will start recount efforts filed to Wayne County, which could take weeks to complete. Absentee ballots for the general election are set to be sent to voters on Sept. 21. Officials expressed concern a recount could delay absentee ballots being mailed.
Michigan: Appeals court tosses judge’s restraining order on state’s review of Detroit ballots | Detroit Free Press
The Michigan Court of Appeals today tossed out a lower court’s restraining order that could have irreparably delayed the Board of State Canvassers’ review of Detroit’s mayoral election. A three-judge appeals panel ruled that Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s order issued Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Detroit City Clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon was made moot because the canvassers had already completed their review of disputed write-in ballots from the city’s Aug. 6 primary election. The judges — Donald Owens, Michael Kelly and Amy Ronayne Krause — also ruled that the board “must be permitted to fulfill its statutory duty to certify the election results” within a 10-day period, as required by state law, and that the canvassers’ work will not harm a recount of ballots sought by Wilcoxon. PDF: Court of Appeals lifts restraining order
To paraphrase a line from HBO’s vote-debacle drama “Recount”: There’s a problem with the numbers in Detroit. A meeting of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers this week should have been as tedious as 10 pages of computer code. Instead, it became a highly publicized test of democracy — or competence — when the county clerk’s office tried to push through a near-50 percent change in the write-in vote total. The clerk’s office urged the canvassers to discard 18,000 write-in ballots: The reason given? Poll workers had used numerals rather than tally marks and hash tags on the official count. That discrepancy was not illegal, according to the state election director, Chris Thomas. But the county clerk urged the board of canvassers to toss the questionably counted ballots, turning them into non-votes. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, whose results were being challenged, demurred. “A citizen’s vote is the cornerstone of democracy, and people should be able to put their faith in their ballot,” she said. Those 18,000 ballots, all write-ins, were presumably cast for Mike Duggan. A turnabout in the total would eliminate his lead, making Benny Napoleon the primary winner.