STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A former Sterling Heights City Council candidate is facing 18 charges for forging ballot applications as part of a losing campaign during the November 2021 election, officials said.
Paul Manni, 27, of Sterling Heights, aroused suspicion when he personally dropped off 50 absentee voter applications with his signature and claimed to be delivering them at the voters’ request, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Nine of the voters whose applications were dropped off by Manni were contacted by clerk staff members to verify that they wanted absentee ballots. None of them said they sought to apply, according to authorities.
The suspected fraud was reported to the Bureau of Elections, which launched an investigation into Manni, officials said. The findings were sent to the attorney general.
Manni was charged with nine counts of forging a signature on an absent voter ballot application, a five-year felony, and nine counts of making a false statement on an absent voter ballot application, a 90-day misdemeanor.
“These charges prove the state’s signature matching standards and other election security checks and balances catch instances of wrongdoing, prompt thorough investigations, and result in appropriate action,” Nessel said. “I appreciate our ongoing partnership with the BOE to root out attempts to undermine our elections.”
Manni was arraigned Aug. 5 in 41-A District Court. A probable cause conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 18.
None of the applications turned in by Manni resulted in a valid ballot going to the voters, according to authorities.