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Court of Appeals says election fraud case will proceed against Southfield clerk

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The Michigan Court of Appeals has reinstated four charges of election fraud against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins.

The attorney general’s office says the alleged fraud appears to be an attempt to cover up a bureaucratic error.

The fraud did not alter the outcome of any of the 2018 races in Southfield. But Nessel said in a statement released by her office that the decision to prosecute shows all allegations of election fraud are taken seriously:

“Election officials must uphold the integrity of their positions. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy. While election fraud is rare in our state, our department if committed to prosecuting fraud whenever and wherever it occurs -- irrespective of the political party of the perpetrator.”

The trial is scheduled to begin October 22nd before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe. With the four charges reinstated, Hawkins will face a total of six counts.

But this may not be the final word. Hawkins’ attorney, Harold Gurewitz, said the ruling to send the case back to the lower court is disappointing.

“And at the present time we’re evaluating the decision to determine the next step,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “One step can include a request to the Michigan Supreme Court for review.”

Hawkins is charged with tossing out absentee ballots in 2018 after they had arrived at the clerk’s office and were logged in to the computer system. The charges say she did that by falsely stating the ballot envelopes were not properly signed by voters, and the purpose was to hide discrepancies in the number of absentee ballots cast compared to the number counted.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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