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Detroit primary finally certified; now for the recount

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

The Michigan board of state canvassers has declared Mike Duggan the winner of Detroit’s mayoral primary.

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers had Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon winning the race. But they declined to certify the election, passing it up to the state.

Wayne County threw out a number of write-in votes based on how they had been tabulated by poll workers. Duggan was a write-in candidate.

The state restored more than 24,000 votes to Duggan, giving him a big margin of victory over Napoleon.

State elections director Chris Thomas said those votes should never have been thrown out in the first place.

“This would have been the most massive disenfranchisement in the history of the state,” Thomas said, adding that the state had the legal right to step in and correct

A city clerk candidate, D. Etta Wilcoxon, had temporarily stopped the proceedings by filing a lawsuit last week, claiming the state had no right to unseal ballot boxes and recount some votes. The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a temporary restraining order allowing the state to certify the election, but Wilcoxon is now suing for de-certification.

Other candidates have requested a full re-count, alleging massive election fraud.

One of them is mayoral candidate Tom Barrow, who said he’s “absolutely certain” he’s uncovered “thousands and thousands” of irregularities, most of which he attributes to the Duggan campaign.

“I am absolutely certain that what we have uncovered, if the authorities do their jobs, will reveal that Detroit has just seen the largest and the most complex, sophisticated election fraud scheme in the history of this country,” said Barrow.

The state acknowledged finding some issues in “a small number” of Detroit precincts. Several ballot canisters were missing seals, while several others had broken seals. One container had no ballots in it at all.

But unless a re-count uncovers some unexpected major problems, Duggan and Napoleon will still face off in November’s general election.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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