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Southfield city clerk charged with six felonies for alleged election tampering

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
Discrepancies in the Southfield voter count were discovered by the Oakland County Clerk's office during the 2018 midterm election.

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Monday that they have filed six felony charges against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins.

Credit Michigan State Police
Sherikia Hawkins was given a $15,000 personal bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The charges are related to the discovery that there were a number of discrepencies in the Southfield voter count in the November 6, 2018 general election.

Nessel says the alleged actions did not change any election results. But she says misconduct undermines faith in the integrity of elections.

“Voting is fundamental to the very essence of our democracy and the ability to cast a ballot that will be counted is a fundamental freedom that protects the other essential rights that Americans hold dear,” she says.

Benson adds, “Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and under my and Attorney General Nessel’s administration there will be no tolerance for any actions that undermine that foundation – anywhere, anytime, by any person or official.”

The charges include:

  • Falsifying Returns/Records (a five-year felony and/or $1,000);
  • Forgery of a Public Record (a 14-year felony);
  • Misconduct in Office (a five-year felony and/or $10,000);
  • Using a Computer to Commit a Crime: Election Law – Falsifying Returns/Records (a seven-year felony and/or $5,000);
  • Using a Computer to Commit a Crime: Forgery of a Public Record (a 10-year felony and/or $10,000);
  • Using a Computer to Commit a Crime: Misconduct in Office (a seven-year felony and/or $5,000)

In a public letter to Hawkins, both officials were stern, writing, "It is difficult to fathom a more serious set of accusations that could be brought against an election official."
Hawkins is barred from administering elections while her case is pending.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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