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Recount fizzles

By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — When the Wayne County Board of Canvassers read Speckin Forensic Laboratories’ assessment that 19 of Detroit’s Aug. 6 primary ballots were most likely all written by separate individuals, in other words, not fraudulent, exasperated candidates and volunteer challengers erupted.

At the Sept. 23 meeting of the board, accountant and recount petitioner Tom Barrow told the board 19 ballots were in no way a statistically adequate measure. Board Chair Carol Larkin replied that Barrow had picked those ballots himself.

Barrow counter-argued that the 19 ballots were selected on the first day of an almost month long recount process. They were a sample of different types of handwriting that were repeated through many precincts, he said.

However, as the recount progressed, challengers identified and paired hand-writing samples that looked identical, Barrow continued. The board possessed those ballots in sealed envelopes.

Neither Speckin Forensics, the handwriting analysts retained by the board, nor Tom Riley, the handwriting analyst retained by Mike Duggan, had examined the paired ballots. Consenting to Barrow’s objections, the board spread the ballots from one precinct and one absent voter counting board that Barrow believed had ballots with identical handwriting. The board allowed Barrow and mayoral candidate/recount petitioner Jean Vortkamp to inspect the ballots. Although Jean Vortkamp pointed out two pairs of what she believed were identically inscribed ballots, at the conclusion of the examination, Vice Board Chair Krista Hartounian saw no probable cause to examine those ballots further or any more ballots from other precincts. The other two board members unanimously agreed.

Nine identical ballots with the name “Micheal” (sic) Duggan printed on them “were sent to the Chief Judge of Circuit Court and the (Wayne County) Prosecutor for review per Michigan Election Law,” Larkin told the Michigan Citizen. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office told the Michigan Citizen they had forwarded the issue along to the Michigan Attorney General. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette would not comment on whether he intended to investigate the issue.

Sept. 24 recount petitioners Tom Barrow, D. Etta Wilcoxon, Monica Lewis-Patrick, Derek Muhammad, Regina Ross and Danetta Simpson sued the board to force them to continue fraud investigations. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo, presiding over the case, admitted he had donated money to Duggan campaign, plaintiffs said. He refused to recuse himself, and petitions to higher court did not result in a change of judges. Colombo ruled in favor of the board ending their investigation.

On Sep. 26, the board concluded their recount, with no candidates’ standing altered.

Although, the issue of the nine identically printed “Micheal Duggan” (sic) ballots remains unsettled, Detroit City Clerk Janice M. Winfrey has already had absentee voter ballots for the November general election printed, and without legally required approval of the election commission. Various recount petitioners are calling on Schuette to continue the investigation.

 

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