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City clerk needs to go

Through the years, many have alleged the election process in Detroit is dirty, but the evidence has never completely emerged.

Whether dirty or incompetent, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey should be ashamed of the handling of the Aug. 6 Detroit primary.

In what universe can nearly 20,000 votes — assuming there were 20,000 votes — be mishandled? Voting machine tapes are gone, pages from poll books are missing and more voters were counted than actual precinct totals show.

Additionally, Clerk Winfrey did not adequately prepare or inform Detroit voters about the primary. No announcements or press briefings went out to help Detroit voters navigate the process.

With so many school closings and changes through the years, Detroit residents did not receive adequate poll location information. Right up until the election, residents cried foul on the Detroit elections process. The clerk had not properly trained poll workers and other irregularities were discovered, including an attempt to get her opponent off the ballot.

Winfrey’s billboards, her message to constituents, even falsely advertised a September date for the general election. A general election is never held in September.

The city clerk got candidate Mike Duggan thrown off the ballot. The clerk could have informed Duggan he was not yet eligible, according to Detroit City Charter, to be a candidate in Detroit.

The Winfrey administration needs to go.

No wonder election veteran Daniel Baxter got out of the Detroit Department of Elections — only days after the primary.

Detroiters are beyond cynical about their election process and may not be wrong when all current state policy (emergency management, and now a state determined local election) point to the fact that civil rights, due process and voting rights do not seem to apply to Black Detroit. The state controls Detroit schools, city government, bankruptcy processes, the water department and now elections.

It is inexcusable and a disgrace to the legacy of Black voting efforts that elections in Detroit are not fair, open and transparent.

Yet, to casually accuse others of election fraud further undermines the process. This week, the Duggan campaign accused Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett of tampering with the election rules. These unfounded accusations do not contribute to civility in the electoral tone of Detroit politics. Instead, they further undermine voter participation and deepen voters sense of apathy about the process.

Voters must not be swayed by accusations at this period of time, but guided by a thorough and open review of Clerk Winfrey’s process and that of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers — we should all be more knowledgeable voters after this.

In the primary, with a large number of write-ins, the state mandates a tally process that enables canvassers to verify that correct work was done by poll workers to count votes cast. The process is logical, thorough and helps prove that numbers are not arbitrary.

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers should question the fact that Detroit did not follow the process. It is, however, unfortunate and an indictment of Clerk Winfrey that the state will ultimately determine Detroit’s election.

The state must re-examine the votes of all 642 precincts — not just use numbers derived from an incorrect process. It cannot fairly call this election using arbitrary numbers to determine an outcome.

Lastly, federal monitors must oversee Detroit’s general election.

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