Questions raised about Detroit city clerk's office after Conyers petitions snafu

May 5, 2014

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey
Credit Sarah Cwiek / City of Detroit

Long-time Detroit Congressman John Conyers’ trouble with ballot petitions is raising some serious questions about the Detroit City Clerk’s office.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett announced last week that Conyers does not appear to have enough valid signatures to make the primary ballot.

That’s because two of his petition circulators registered to vote just last month. In Michigan, state law mandates that circulators be registered to vote at the time they gather signatures.

Garrett says Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey has provided the data showing the two circulators in question registered late last month.

But Winfrey’s office had indicated earlier that the pair registered to vote in December.

Reverend Charles Williams, a Detroit civil rights activist who heads the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, says that should raise enough questions for the US Department of Justice to investigate the Detroit clerk and Department of Elections.

“In a week’s time, there [were] two designations of whether these two gatherers were registered to vote,” Williams says. “That’s a very big issue.

“If we can’t get the simple issues of registering to vote correct, how can we administer elections?”

Garrett’s office will reportedly release the results of an investigation into the matter, as well as any documents received from local clerks, later this week.

She will decide on Conyers’ ballot status next week.