Detroit's Election Results: More Weird Math - New York News

Detroit's Election Results: More Weird Math

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OFF THE CHAIN OPINION
By Charlie LeDuff and Matt Phillips

DETROIT – The phone rang. It was late. I peeled myself out of bed. Someone was calling with the latest election conspiracy.

She said there were photographs of a group of men manipulating election ballots after the polls had closed Tuesday night on Detroit's primary.

Those photos have yet to materialize, but the thing about conspiracy theories is that there is always a sniff of truth to them.

So I took a second  look at the election results on Friday morning. And the numbers are so curious that at least one election lawyer is calling for an investigation and federal monitoring of Detroit's general election this November.

According to unofficial returns provided by the Detroit Board of Elections -- a division of the County Clerk's office -- 96,000 people voted for mayor out of a possible 538,000 registered voters.

The problem is, there were only 514,000 adults living in Detroit in 2012, according to Census Bureau estimates that most demographic experts consider to be a rosy.  Even so, that would mean that 105 percent of the Detroit adult population is registered to vote. As anyone knows, you can't get higher than 100 percent.

City Clerk Janice Winfrey did not respond to numerous phone calls or a visit to the Board of Elections. And curiously, Daniel Baxter, the director of the board of elections retired Friday morning.

Deputy Director Gina Avery said federal law requires that her office hold the rolls for two federal election cycles before inactive voters  are purged. That last purge was supposed to be earlier this year.

Assuming that, Detroit has more than 100 percent of its adults registered to vote – impossible according to the math I learned in public school. The national average is 86 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

Assuming Detroit is an "average" pocket of America – a stretch to say the least -- one could reasonably assume there should be 463,000 registered voters in Detroit – 75,000 fewer than now reported.

The potential for fraud is enormous said Todd Perkins, a Detroit election lawyer. "The numbers that Winfrey has of registered numbers do not comport with the numbers of other urban environments," he said. "She's had so much scrutiny, so many problems it would do us justice to have some oversight from the state or a federal monitor. It stinks to high heaven."

The problems at Winfrey's office have garnered plenty of headlines this cycle.  Winfrey certified the candidacy of Mike Duggan only to have it overturned in court on residency issues. Her opponent for clerk D. Etta Wilcoxon had to sue to get on the ballot after Winfrey ruled that some of her petition signatures were invalid. Her office also left one valid city council candidate off the ballot.

So is the fix in or is it incompetence?

"When I ran four years ago, I questioned that," said Bettie Cook-Scott, a city council candidate for District 4. "I think some of the abandoned homes were voting and maybe possibly some people who are not here anymore."

And then there is this:  the unofficial tally for mayoral write-in candidates was about 50,000. But counting the unofficial raw data, the total votes for write-in candidates was 46,000 with Mike Duggan getting 44,395. So what happened to the other 8 percent? Remember, 8 percent is a landslide in any election. Obama won last year by less than 4 percent of the vote.

Everybody knows that the second thing you have to be able to count in a Democracy is money. The first thing you have to be able to count is the peoples' vote. You can't do that, you can kiss it good-bye.

Clerk Winfrey needs to come out of her badger hole and explain this. For the sake of the people.

UPDATE: Winfrey responds and offers an explanation on the voting numbers, click here>>

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