DETROIT (WWJ) – The Wayne County Board of Canvassers decided not to certify the city’s mayoral primary election following questions about the way ballots were counted.

WWJ’s Beth Fisher reports the confusion stemmed from the vote totals which reversed the order of the top two spots for mayor putting Bennie Napoleon in first place and Mike Duggan in second.

Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon during happier times. June 2013. (WWJ/Pat Sweeting)

Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon during happier times. June 2013. (WWJ/Pat Sweeting)

With questions about hashmarks on ballots – some say up to 20,000 votes may not have been counted.

Melvin (Butch) Hollowell, counsel for Duggan, says this came out of left field.

“This is an eleventh hour surprise – it’s something you might want to see in a third world country,” said Halloway. “Not here in America and certainly not here in the city of Detroit.”

“The only thing that matters is total vote count,” said John Pirich, representing Duggan. “And to disenfranchise the people of the city of Detroit who wrote in Mike Duggan’s name based upon this kind of technicality which is absolutely not part of the statute, is ridiculous.”

Candidate Tom Burrow weighed and was not pleased: “That the lawlessness in the city of Detroit has got to end.”

The state will now decide whether to certify Detroit’s Primary vote count but legal challenges are expected. Some are calling for federal oversight of the process.

Others have called for the U.S. Attorney General to step in to investigate.

Reporting from the Canvassers’ meeting, WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said, due to miscounts and other discrepancies, some 20,000 write-in votes — initially counted for Duggan — were disallowed.

Langton said Detroiters in the packed room were stunned when the results were read.

People in the audience speculated that there was a rush to count votes on election night.

“Something was horribly, horribly wrong,” said political consultant Steve Hood. “They shouldn’t have tried to get everything done by the 11 o’clock newscast that night.”

Hood says City Clerk Janice Winfrey clearly dropped the ball.

“She’s gotta go,” Hood said. “This is wrong, because what you’ve done now is you’ve hurt Napolean’s ability to raise funds — and now you’ve got Mike Duggan in question.

“It’s just thrown the whole thing into chaos,” he said.

Langton said he was awaiting word as to if there will be any legal challenges. “Undoubtedly there would be,” he said.


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