Call For Equal Republican Representation in Election Poll Watchers Leads to City Clerk Resigning

An election credibility group sent out a letter to the department of the longstanding city clerk in Flint, Michigan, demanding she strike a balance between the number of Democratic and Republican election auditors.

In response, the longtime city clerk has decided to retire. 

Call For Integrity

Pure Integrity Michigan Elections, along with the Thomas More Society’s lawyer Erick Kaardal, sent a court summons to Flint and City Clerk Inez Brown on September 6.

The letter threatened legal action if they did not equalize the amount of partisan voters watchers prior to the general November elections. 

In apparent contravention of a Michigan state statute that necessitates proportional participation of party election inspectors, the city of Flint hired 422 Democratic election inspectors for the primary on August 2 and only 27 Republican election inspectors.

Brown, who served as Flint’s city clerk for the previous 25 years, unexpectedly tendered her resignation on September 8, expiring September 30.

This was approximately one month before the election in November. Brown did not provide any explanation for her decision to leave, which caught municipal officials off guard. 

The official office of the Mayor of Flint, Sheldon Neeley, was caught off guard, according to an interview with the Flint Beat. He was not aware this would take place so quickly. 

Neeley reached out to the office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to request assistance in handling the city’s elections as a result of Brown’s decision to quit.

Benson is running for re-election this year, raising some concerns regarding the morality of her participation in Flint’s electoral process. 

Surrounding Issues

According to Patrice Johnson, who serves as chair of PIME, the question is whether or not her office can be deemed neutral in the process of organizing the elections in Flint.

If you are a candidate for public office, the law prohibits you from serving as an election inspector in the same precinct in which you are running for election.

Johnson believes Brown’s resignation is a move on the right course, despite the doubts that have been raised about it.

Brown’s time as Flint’s city clerk has been marred by a number of issues, the most notable of which are the miscommunication of the filing deadline for mayoral hopefuls in 2015 and the allegations of a failure to count absentee ballots. 

Johnson is quoted as saying the pressure they’ve been putting on the city has led to this. 

Johnson anticipates Flint will fully comply with PIME’s demand letter and achieve a balance in the number of party political election auditors in time for the election in November. This is the case regardless of Brown’s decision to resign. 

She stated there is no justification for an unhealthy disparity of employees at the township and local elections in a state with more than seven million people eligible to vote. Here, it is not required for an election auditor to live in the polling location in which they work.

This article appeared in The Political Globe and has been published here with permission.