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Judge rejects request to deny counting thousands of Detroit ballots

Downtown Detroit Skyline
Bridge Magazine
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Bridge Magazine

A Wayne County judge used scathing language to reject the Republican secretary of state candidate’s late-hour request to impose new absentee ballot rules on Detroit voters.

In the filing, GOP nominee Kristina Karamo asked for the new rules to be applied only in the city of Detroit. That alone drew the ire of the judge in a blistering decision that found Karamo made a dozen allegations that were not factual or that misrepresented the law.

Judge Timothy Kenny said granting the request could mean the votes of Detroiters who’ve already dropped off or mailed in absentee ballots would go uncounted.

From his opinion:

The preliminary injunction would serve to disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters in the city of Detroit. Additionally, the city of Detroit would be the only community in Michigan to suffer such an adverse impact. Such harm to the citizens of the city of Detroit, and by extension the citizens of the state of Michigan, is not only unprecedented, it is intolerable.

Kenny called the lawsuit “a false flag” to call into question the validity of votes cast in Detroit. He also noted the Karamo lawsuit was also too late to apply to this election, but said there’s no reason for the requested remedies to apply to future elections, either.

David Fink is an attorney for the city and said he doesn’t think it’s a coincidence it targeted the majority-Black city of Detroit.

“When a lawsuit is filed that has such a disparate impact on the African-American community, there’s really only one name for it — racism,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

Karamo’s attorney complained in court about the tone used by the defense in this case and noted that his client is Black.

“We’ve only just begun this fight,” Daniel Hartman told Michigan Public Radio.

Hartman said a request for reconsideration and appeal is a near-certainty.

“Regardless of who wins an early round of litigation, the other side usually follows through, and this will be the same. We’re going to follow through to pursue our claims and the case is not concluded by any means.”

But he said next steps won’t take place before Tuesday’s voting.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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