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Another lawsuit filed in Michigan

HOUGHTON — An amended lawsuit has been filed in Michigan State Court regarding as many as tens of thousands of ballots that were improperly completed by Wayne County election board officials and Democratic election observers, according to a Friday release from the Amistad Project.

“As routinely happens, some ballots were rejected by machines for being illegible,” the release states. “For these ballots to eventually count, a new ballot must be filled out by hand. In clear violation of the law, only Democrats completed and returned numerous initially rejected ballots.”

According to Michigan law [MCL 168.765a (10)] and the a previous directive from the Michigan Secretary of State, there must be both a Republican and Democrat who agree with the intent of the voter before the new ballot can be filled in and tabulated, the release stated.

The plaintiffs in the case are Sarah Stoddard and Election Integrity Fund; the defendants are the City Election Commission of the city of Detroit and Janice Winfrey, in her official capacity as Detroit City Clerk and chairperson of the City Clerk and chairperson of the City Election Commission, and Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

On her re-election website, Winfrey does not mention a political affiliation, but according to the city of Detroit site, she is listed as a member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers; the Association of Wayne County Clerks; the Michigan Municipal Clerks Association; the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

“In her role as chief elections officer, Janice Winfrey is proud to be the forerunner in advancing the cause of democracy for these deserving members of our society,” Winfrey’s website states. “Under her leadership, the city of Detroit was the first municipality in Michigan to allow eligible residents to apply for absentee ballots by touch-screen-enabled devices.”

This is the latest lawsuit filed in Michigan, as well as several other states. On Oct. 5, prenewswire.com reported that voters in four states announced the filing of federal lawsuits as part of a growing campaign to block cities and counties from the alleged misuse of $250 million donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, issued in “grants” from the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) with the goal of influencing the outcome of the election on Nov. 3.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced on Sept. 1 that they were providing $300 million in funding to support non-profits to provide assistance to city and county election offices, with $250 million going to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and $50 million going to the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR). In mid-October, Zuckerberg and Chan announced that they were providing an additional $100 million to CTCL.

According to Ballotpediea, $3.5 million in funding was awarded to Wayne County cities:

CTCL is providing $417,000 to the City of Ann Arbor to:

• Pay for staffing for a satellite city clerk’s office at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

• Pay for staffing for extended city clerk’s office hours at city hall.

• New absentee ballot drop boxes.

• $100 in bonus pay for the city’s election workers.

CTCL is providing $467,625 to the City of Flint to:

• Expand voter education and outreach.

• Purchase eight ballot drop-boxes.

• Allow for additional staffing to process absentee ballots.

$443,000 grant to City of Lansing:

In early September, it was announced that the city of Lansing, Michigan, had agreed to accept a $443,000 grant from CTCL. According to the announcement, the funds will be used as follows:

“Some of the funding will go to mailing out absentee ballot application to every remaining Lansing City voters who have not requested a ballot be mailed to them in order to reduce the crowd sizes on election day while still allowing voters to participate. It will also allow for the purchase and installation of 12 new secure drop-boxes located at all fire stations, community centers, the CATA CTC station and the City Cemetery office.”

The city of Muskegon accepted $433,580 from CTCL for these items:

• A media campaign to encourage voters to mail in their ballots.

• A $100,000 high-speed vote tabulator.

• New election booths at every precinct.

• A one-time pay increase for poll workers.

• Additional ballot drop boxes.

• A drive-thru voting program.

$405,564 to city of Pontiac.

$402,000 grant to city of Saginaw paid for:

• A public relations outreach campaign.

• Support for absentee voting.

• Recruitment and training of poll workers.

• Safety protocols.

• Extended clerk hours.

• Hazard pay for poll workers.

• Ballot drop boxes.

• Equipment and staffing to process absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots.

“This is about protecting the integrity of Michigan’s election,” Phil Kline, director of The Amistad Project, which is supporting the litigation, said. “The ballots in question need to be quarantined and closely reviewed by members of both parties. That is why we are taking this urgent against Detroit’s City Election Commission, the Detroit City Clerk and the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

“The law allows this moment of pause to ensure the election is fair and accurate. As such, elections are not immediately certified. We should use this pause to ensure America has the fair and accurate election it deserves. Also, the effort to determine what happened can be greatly facilitated by election officials simply opening their books to show how they managed the election. Transparency is key to a fair election and the public has a right to know.”

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