Denzel McCampbell, a voter rights activist who is running to oust Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey, is calling for an inquiry into city council officials’ decision to block a ballot that calls for compensation for systemic racial discrimination.
Civil rights attorney Todd Perkins sued the Detroit Election Commission, which is headed by Winfrey, for rejecting the proposal. Earlier this month, Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny sided with Perkins, saying the commission did not have the authority to stop the proposal from appearing on the ballot because it met all the requirements.
Perkins alleged that the Detroit Department of Elections lied on an affidavit that petitions did not meet the requirements.
“Detroiters are tired of seeing their elected officials in the headlines and the courtroom,” McCampbell said in a statement Thursday. “This time, it’s clear that the Detroit City Clerk was using his role in the Detroit Electoral Commission to try to stop an initiative that could pave the way for black Detroit’s replacements. What is even more gross is that an election official who is under the leadership of the city council presented an affidavit stating that the petitions were incomplete even though they were not. This is a worrying oversight at best and a fraudulent act at worst. This is a huge violation of public trust, and Detroiters deserve better. ”
McCambell calls on the Detroit Office of the Inspector General to conduct a “full investigation” to determine whether election officials “deliberately committed wrongdoing or misleading actions.”
“Detroit residents need to be able to trust that when they submit petitions and signatures to the clerk’s office, it will be received and evaluated properly,” McCampbell said. “The lack of transparency and now accountability is evident in a collapse in public confidence in this office. It is time for a change in leadership that is responsive and accountable to the people. ”
In July, Detroit City Council unanimously approved placing a similar proposal on the ballot, which would allow residents to vote on whether the city should “set up a repair committee to make recommendations for housing and economic development programs that address historical discrimination against black communities. ”
The resolution states that black residents “have been systematically, continuously and unfairly enslaved, unfairly separated, unjustly imprisoned, denied housing through racist practices in public land use as well as in private real estate markets.”
There are still questions about how the measures would be funded if voters approved it. The Michigan Constitution prevents the use of tax dollars for racially exclusive purposes. And a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 prevents preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity.
Some supporters have suggested using funds from recreational marijuana sales to fund repairs. But the city does not make money on cannabis. A federal judge last month slammed a recreational marijuana ordinance, saying it was “probably unconstitutional” because it gives preferential treatment to longtime Detroiters.
McCampbell, a graduate of Michigan State University and lifelong Detroiter who grew up on the city’s northeast side of Krainz Woods, advanced to the general election in November after beating four other challengers in the primary in August. He took leave from his concert as communications chief for the U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit.
McCampbell has repeatedly called Winfrey for mismanagement of elections. During the 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump won Michigan by only 0.2%, many voting machines worked, the polls were not properly trained, and thousands of presidential votes could not be recounted because tables did not match the polls.
For more than a month before the 2020 election, Winfrey’s election website diverted voters to the wrong poll.
In the primary and parliamentary elections in 2020, the total sum for many areas did not vote again for the area’s poll, which means that they cannot be recounted. The problems prompted Wayne County canvassers to call for state intervention in 2020.
McCampbell also pointed out in August that some signs of Detroit polling stations during the primary election had the wrong operating hours on them.
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