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A Better Partnership
June 19, 2014

COA rejects plaintiffs’ attempts to derail Duggan election

In the consolidated case of Barrow v. Detroit Election Commission (Nos. 317540, 318683, 318828), the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the Circuit Court’s denial of plaintiffs’ attempt to derail Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan’s election by challenging his write-in campaign, the circulation of absentee ballots, and the in-person collection of absentee ballots at satellite city clerk offices.  The Court first noted that while the appeal ordinarily might be moot, it would review the claims because they were issues of public significance that would be likely to reoccur.  In denying plaintiffs’ challenge to Duggan’s write-in campaign,  the Court held that Duggan’s campaign was valid because he satisfied all of the legal requirements to run as a write-in candidate set forth in MCL 168.737(1), and that the requirements for running as an “official candidate” as set forth in MCL 168.321 did not apply.  Next, the Court denied plaintiffs’ challenge to the adequacy of the absentee ballots, holding that plaintiffs incorrectly relied on the statute governing paper voting, MCL 168.705, rather than those governing electronic voting, MCL 168.794-99a, and that the ballots at issue complied with the electronic voting requirements.  Additionally, the Court discounted plaintiffs’ proposition that an election commission must obtain approval before every step in the ballot preparation and printing process.  Furthermore, to the extent that approval was required, the Court recognized that the commission satisfied this by ratifying all of the actions relative to ballot preparation at a subsequent open meeting.  Finally, the Court rejected plaintiffs’ challenge to the use of satellite locations for early absentee voting by ruling that the Michigan statutory scheme permits the use of such measures, and that the Detroit election commission acted within its powers when it instituted absentee voting in satellite clerk offices.

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