Winfrey: Detroit clerk’s office vindicated in state audit
Detroit — City Clerk Janice Winfrey said Friday that her Department of Elections has been vindicated since the state has made a preliminary finding of no vote fraud in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas told The Detroit News on Monday there had been no finding of fraud but the state continues to investigate discovered mismatches between ballot boxes and recorded vote totals in nearly 60 percent of the city’s precincts during a canvassing of the election results. The audit report is expected in early February.
The state has pinned most of the irregularities in Detroit’s election on performance issues or human error by election workers.
“The state also concluded that this office administered the presidential election in accordance with the spirit and intent of state election laws, vindicating the Detroit Department of Elections of any wrongdoing,” Winfrey said Friday, drawing an applause from her staff during a news conference.
A state audit found nothing fraudulent in Detroit elections, says Detroit City Clerk Janice M. Winfrey. She talks about outdated voting equipment in Detroit, and says new voting machines will be in place for the next election.
Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said Friday while the state has not found any evidence of voter fraud in Detroit’s election, it would be “premature” to discuss its findings in detail.
The state will addres any issues with the Department of Election when it releases its full report in a week or so, Woodhams said.
But Winfrey said the audit has prompted her office to expand training for poll workers. They will now be trained for election work once every three months instead of the old practice of getting one training session right before an election.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson told The Detroit News on Thursday that voting irregularities in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan during the Nov. 8 election are prompting her office to consider expanding the state’s post-election audits.
Winfrey said one of the biggest setbacks on general election day was the outdated, decade-old voting machines — 87 of which malfunctioned or jammed when ballots were inserted.
The city plans to purchase roughly 700 new voting machines in time for the primary election in August, Winfrey said. Detroit is expected to contribute $1.6 million toward paying for the machines, a cost that will be split with the state and Wayne County, said Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter.
Baxter said the new machines should alleviate the issue of ballots being jammed.
Michigan law bars recounts for unbalanced precincts or ones with broken seals, which happened in 10.6 percent of precincts statewide. The issues were worst in Detroit, where officials could not recount votes in 392 of the city’s 662 precincts, or 59.2 percent.
On Friday, Winfrey called the state’s recount law “antiquated” because it doesn’t account for human error. She said she plans to lobby for the state to change the law.
“Michigan election laws must be updated to join the majority of the states throughout the country which allow for and consider human error when conducting a recount,” Winfrey said. “This must be fixed in order to demonstrate the integrity of the process.”