Detroit's counting of write-in mayoral ballots halted

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September 1, 2013

By Brittany Clingen

Michigan

Detroit, Michigan: Election workers were nearly finished tallying contested write-in votes cast in Detroit's mayoral primary when Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk ordered the process be stopped on account of a lawsuit. On Thursday, D. Etta Wilcoxon, one of the candidates for Detroit city clerk, filed a lawsuit claiming the state does not have the legal authority to count the contested votes. Wilcoxon explained her reasoning, saying the Board of State Canvassers has “no legal authority to do what they’ve been doing for the last several days. This is something that Janice Winfrey should have done on behalf of the residents of the city of Detroit but failed to do.” Winfrey, the current city clerk who will square off against Wilcoxon for the position in November, and her office declared that Mike Duggan won the August 6 primary, beating his opponent, Benny Napoleon. However, the Board of Canvassers refused to certify the votes, claiming that 20,000 write-in ballots were improperly tallied by city elections workers. State Elections Director Christopher Thomas disagreed saying the votes should not be invalidated. His office began the process of reviewing and certifying the votes. Drew Paterson, Wilcoxon's lawyer, contends state law only permits the canvassers of Wayne County - the county in which Detroit is located - to certify and recount ballots. On the other hand, Thomas' spokesman, Fred Woodhams, said it is now the duty of the state elections board since the county canvassers did not complete their count within the required 14 days. Neither candidate has commented on the situation.[1]

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