Michigan Secretary of State to support City of Detroit in November election

FILE - In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Michigan's top election official said Tuesday, May, 19, 2020, that absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all 7.7 million registered voters for the August primary and November general election. Benson said the step announced as the state continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic ensures no one "has to to choose between their health and their right to vote." (AP Photo/David Eggert, File) (David Eggert, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – Following irregularities in ballot counting in Detroit during the August Primary, the state is stepping in to ensure votes are counted properly for the November General Election.

The issue in August stems from inexperienced poll workers. The city hired many new and temporary poll workers who weren’t trained properly. In some cases, poll workers left polling sites before voting ended.

According to officials, 72 percent of Detroit’s absentee ballots for the August Primary Election weren’t re-countable based on irregularities in ballot handling. The same went for nearly half of the city’s precincts.

On Wednesday, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced a partnership to “ensure the integrity and accessibility of the November 3 general election in Detroit.”

The partnership, supported by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and the Center for Tech and Civic Life, will involve collaborative efforts to recruit and train additional staff and election workers, open 14 new satellite clerk offices throughout the city, and provide additional support to ensure the integrity of the city’s absentee ballot tabulation.

With the resources provided through these partnerships Winfrey’s administration will add capacity and improve Detroit’s election system, including:

  • Opening 14 additional satellite clerk offices – for a total of 21 across the city – where voters can register and request and return absentee ballots starting October 5. The offices will be open six days a week, staffed by City of Detroit employees and operating in recreation centers and other facilities.
  • Installing more than 30 secure ballot drop boxes across the city that will be continuously monitored and secure.
  • Recruiting and training at least 6,000 election workers to ensure every one of the city’s 182 polling locations and 134 absentee counting board is fully staffed.
  • Little Caesars Arena will provide space for physically distant in person training for new election workers to ensure election workers and staff are fully prepared to execute their duties on Election Day.
  • Hiring additional staff to support the City clerk’s office, including Christopher Thomas, former Michigan Bureau of Elections Director, who will serve as a senior advisor.
  • Revising protocols for ballot counting and sorting to make more effective use of high-speed scanners (tabulators) and reduce the potential for error.

“The City of Detroit is committed to ensuring our elections are safe, secure, and accessible to all,” said Duggan.  “That is why I am making numerous City staff available to support Clerk Winfrey and her administration as they prepare for the election and many more available to serve as election workers on Election Day.”

This was not the first time there have been counting problems in Detroit. In 2016, presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a recount. More than 50 percent of Detroit’s precincts couldn’t be recounted because the counts didn’t match.

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers was asking Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to step in and investigate the training and processes used in the Detroit Clerk’s office.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.