Election reform measure in Detroit blocked by city clerk, lawsuit claims


By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Saying Detroit has been beset with voting irregularities for years, a citizen group is suing the city to force a ballot initiative intended to create more transparency and accountability in the tabulation of votes.

Citizens for Detroit’s Future filed the suit this week after saying City Clerk Janice Winfrey refused to place the initiative on the Aug. 2 ballot, even though the group collected more than the required 7,000 signatures from registered voters. The City Council also has repeatedly delayed voting on the initiative.

The initiative would require poll workers to post election results and the security seal number in every voting precinct and Cobo Hall immediately after the polls close.

“This Citizens Initiative has been treated with complete disregard of the law and as if it’s an afterthought by this Clerk,” Tom Barrow, president of Citizens for Detroit’s Future, said in a written statement. “It’s as if people exercising democracy, in a city where democracy is already compromised by Emergency Managers and un-elected state officials, is non-existent and something which can be ignored or manipulated at the will of local officials.”

Tom Barrow
Tom Barrow

Barrow, who has run for mayor in past elections, said “massive irregularities” were uncovered during the election recounts in 2009 and 2013.

“Now, we are being treated as if Detroit voters are not even citizens at all and should just quietly accept that fate” Barrow said. “We reject that as Citizens for Detroit’s Future executed a legally compliant petition, followed the law in gathering signatures and now merely ask that Clerk Janice Winfrey perform her ministerial duty to place the measure on the next available ballot.
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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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