Dennis Lennox: Detroit Failed to Remove Thousands of Dead Voters, Including One Born in 1823

Voting literature is placed on the table at the NAACP office in Detroit, Michigan, on October 23, 2019. - Sims is co-founder of the nonprofit Project We Hope, Dream, and Believe, a youth mentoring organization and hopes to restore the home. Outside the dilapidated home where Malcolm X once lived, …
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Detroit has failed to remove thousands of dead voters from the list of registered voters, a lawsuit filed in federal court alleges.

The lawsuit against Clerk Janice Winfrey, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and currently serves on the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee, and George Azzouz, the city’s elections director, by the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation comes just a couple months after the city clerk in nearby Southfield was charged with six election fraud felonies.

It alleges that there are 2,503 dead voters, 4,788 duplicative voters, 16,465 voters without a listed date of registration, and an overall total of 511,786 voters in a city with only 479,267 residents of voting age and eligibility. One voter is listed with a birthdate of 1823, which was 14 years before Michigan’s statehood.

“The city of Detroit is failing to perform some of the most basic functions owed to its citizenry,” said J. Christian Adams, general counsel and president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, in a statement. “The city government’s nonchalant attitude toward addressing evidence of dead and duplicate registrations exposes yet another vulnerability in our voting systems as our nation works to improve election security before November 2020.”

A state audit conducted after the 2016 vote found “significant discrepancies.”

The issues first arose during a statewide recount of the presidential race, when more than half of Detroit’s voting locations were found to be “legally ineligible to be recounted,” Michigan Radio reported. Notably, 37 percent of the locations had vote scanning machines that tabulated more ballots than the number of voters recorded in poll books, the New York Post reported.

Winfrey defeated Garlin Gilchrist II, the now-lieutenant governor of Michigan, to win re-election by 1,482 votes in 2017. At the time, Gilchrist called her administration of the 2016 election a “complete catastrophe.” He subsequently requested a recount, which upheld her victory. After the recount Gilchrist said there remain “issues and reasons why people in Detroit do not trust the voting process.”

While no evidence has been presented that any of the purported dead voters cast ballots, it does raise new questions heading into the 2020 election, the state’s first under a host of changes that include same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting.

The changes, long advocated by Democrats, came into effect after a ballot question pushed by liberal groups was passed by voters in 2018 without real opposition from the Michigan Republican Party.

The case, before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Detroit. The complaint can be read here.

Dennis Lennox is a Michigan political commentator and public affairs consultant. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.

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