David Josar and Lisa M. Collins, Detroit News, November 4, 2005
A Wayne County judge has appointed a receiver to take over absentee ballot voting operations in Detroit after finding that city Clerk Jackie Currie’s workers violated a court injunction Thursday regarding the use of election ambassadors just hours after it was issued.
A state Bureau of Elections worker testified at an emergency hearing Friday that she observed one of the ambassadors, Gracie Allen, ask an apparently incapacitated person at the Fairlane Nursing Center twice “Do you want to vote for Jackie?” and then marked that person’s ballot.
This is the first time the state has ever been asked to intervene like this.
The general election is on Tuesday.
In just the second day of observing how Detroit runs its absentee ballot voting Thursday, observers from the state Bureau of Elections witnessed a myriad of violations, some of them felonies, being conducted by one of Currie’s election ambassadors and others.
Allen took absentee ballots that had already been mailed to the nursing home and in the possession of nursing home staff — a felony — distributed them to the residents and gave them instructions on how to complete them.
“The vast majority of them seem confused by the instructions,” McRill said.
The residents did not seem to know what they were doing and many were not able to even hold the pens they needed to sign the ballots, she said.
Allen explained, McRill said, that she had to quickly collect the pens because the residents were so confused they might use the pen on the absentee ballot and spoil their vote.
“There was a lot of confusion on part of the voters she attempting to assist,” said McRill, who has worked for the state for 20 years.
Then McRill observed Allen move to a woman who said she couldn’t read or see.
The woman told Allen: “Just vote for whoever you think I should vote for.”