A Whitmer-appointed judge dismissed a Republican lawsuit that claimed election officials in Flint, Michigan, hired too few Republican election inspectors. Consequently, nearly 90% of election inspectors entrusted with administering and overseeing the election will be partisan actors belonging to a single political party.
Republican concerns, Democrat overrepresentation
The Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit in the 7th Circuit Court for Genesee County on Oct. 28, seeking a court order that would require election officials to hire more Republican election workers.
The lawsuit claimed that Flint’s interim city clerk Davina Donahue, city attorney William Kim, and city assessor Stacey Kaake failed to ensure a fair number of election inspectors from both parties in accordance with Michigan law.
Michigan Election Law specifies that the “board of election commissioners shall appoint at least 1 election inspector from each major political party and shall appoint an equal number, as nearly as possible, of election inspectors in each election precinct from each major political party.”
The Detroit Free Press reported that figures provided by the city’s attorney indicate that only 120 of 680 election workers (roughly 17%) hired to work in the upcoming midterm are Republicans.
The lawsuit claimed that notwithstanding the Michigan GOP’s provision of 122 Republican applications sent to the former city clerk in May (who resigned amid scandal on Sept. 30), there only wound up being 49 Republican election inspectors during the state’s August primary, for which there were 442 Democrat election inspectors.
According to MLive, the Michigan GOP reached out to the former city clerk in September with another list of Republicans keen to work on the election but was told on Oct. 15 that only 57 (10%) of the 562 election inspectors would be Republicans.
Ron Weiser, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, stated, “Corrupt Democrats in elected office continue to change the rules or not follow the rules, and that’s unacceptable. We believe this blatant attempt to skirt the law will negatively impact our elections, and we’re not going to stand for it.”
RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel said, “Michigan election law clearly states that election commissioners have a responsibility to hire an equal partisan breakdown of election inspectors, but Flint has hired hundreds more Democrats than Republicans.”
McDaniel added, “This is unacceptable and unfair to Michigan voters.”
9:1 representation good enough for the equity party
On Nov. 2, Circuit Court Judge Mark Latchana rejected the Republicans’ case, saying they lacked standing to bring the complaint under state law. Latchana agreed with the city that only the county chair of the Republican Party would be in a position to bring the complaint to court.
Gustavo Portela, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, said, “Flint has over 80% Democrat inspectors, and over 90% Democrat inspectors for the absentee vote counting boards. … This is unacceptable.”
According to MLive, city attorneys claimed Flint had satisfied the requirements of the law, having appointed “as nearly as possible” an equal number even if the result was a ratio of 9 to 1.
The Republicans indicated they would appeal the ruling with only five days left to go until Election Day.