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Election challenger files lawsuit against Detroit City Clerk, Election Commission

Aug 11, 2017

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court alleges Detroit’s city clerk violated election law.

Detroiter Anita Belle says she was trying to challenge the legitimacy of potentially more than a thousand absentee ballots. She says there are voters registered at addresses that are actually vacant lots owned by the Detroit Land Bank. Belle had hoped to challenge any ballots from those addresses. But she says she wasn’t allowed to.

“We were going to challenge these registered voters if they voted by saying that, you can’t reside in the city, because residency is part of what we can challenge about, you can’t reside in the city if your address is a vacant lot," Belle said.

Belle also alleges that workers from the clerk’s office barred her from viewing the process of counting absentee ballots, and that members of her group were banned from accessing their cell phones.

According to the Michigan Secretary of State, election challengers such as Belle have the right to “observe the election process in voting precincts and absent voter counting board precincts.”

Belle is asking Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. to dismiss all of the city’s absentee ballots. Even if that happened, however, it would not change the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

“But what we’re after is not necessarily to change the results of the election, but to ensure the integrity of the election,” Belle said.

The city clerk’s office did not return requests for comment.