DETROIT (AP) – State elections officials can proceed with the certification of Detroit’s Aug. 6 mayoral primary after Michigan’s Court of Appeals threw out a lower court’s order that temporarily halted the process.
The Appeals Court action Friday followed a motion by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to have Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s temporary restraining order reversed.
Draganchuk’s order was made Thursday and called for workers with the state Department of Elections to cease tabulations of uncounted write-in ballots from the city’s contentious primary. A hearing on the order had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Detroit city clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon filed suit to stop the count, which the state finished Thursday.
Wilcoxon’s challenge to the state Board of Canvassers handling Detroit’s ballots is moot because the counting process already has been completed, the Appeals Court wrote.
“The Board must be permitted to fulfill its statutory duty to certify the election results within the ten-day period,” read the order. “Such action will not prejudice plaintiff’s efforts to obtain a recount if desired.”
State canvassers will receive a summary report Tuesday on the write-in tabulations and certify the primary results.
At issue is the number of write-ins cast for Mike Duggan, the former Detroit Medical Center CEO, who finished second to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the primary, according to Wayne County’s vote count.
State elections workers this week counted 24,000 write-in ballots, putting Duggan’s vote total at 48,716, state elections director Chris Thomas wrote in an affidavit Friday in support of the AG’s filing. Thomas detailed the findings of preliminary figures from the state canvass of write-in ballots.
Unofficial results from the City of Detroit’s count showed that Duggan received 44,395 write-in votes.
Wayne County canvassers, who referred the ballots to the state because they were tallied numerically instead of with hash marks, have said they counted about 24,000 valid votes for Duggan and about 28,300 for Napoleon.
“The certification of the mayoral primary using the canvass report presented to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers would have resulted in a massive disenfranchisement of voters in a magnitude never seen in my tenure as state elections director,” Thomas, who took over the post in 1981, said in his affidavit.
Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett has said she welcomed a review of the write-in votes by the state and defended the county’s actions, calling Detroit’s count a “rush to judgment.”
The deadline for state officials to certify Detroit’s primary vote is Tuesday.
Duggan ran as a write-in candidate after a residency issue forced his name off the primary ballot. His name will be on the November ballot.
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