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ACLU sues Flint city clerk over handling of absentee ballot applications

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union claims Flint voters may be denied their right to vote absenteein the August primary.

The ACLU suit finds fault with how the Flint city clerk's office processes absentee ballotapplications and other issues.  

Attorney Alec Gibbs says, if these issues are not corrected, it could affect Flint voters' ability to take part in August's primary and November’s general election.

“I shudder at this,” says Gibbs. “We could be talking about tens of thousands of voters losing their right to vote.”

But in a July 7 letter, Flint City Clerk Inez Brown calls the allegations in the lawsuit "baseless.”

The city clerk’s office has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in a court filing, the city of Flint says the city clerk's office will be open on Monday to assist people needing help with their ballots. The city has also placed a drop box outside city hall for absentee ballots.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, approximately 7,500 absentee ballot applications have been processed in Flint ahead of next month’s primary.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley last week voiced support for the city clerk’s handling of the upcoming elections.

“We have offered our full support to Clerk Inez Brown to provide any and all resources, space or equipment needed to conduct the upcoming election,” Neeley said in a written statement. “We respect the clerk’s role in planning and organizing the election, but remain willing to support on behalf of all residents of Flint.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.