Flint, Michigan’s longtime city clerk is retiring after an election integrity group sent a letter to her office demanding she balance out the number of Democrat and Republican election inspectors.
On Sept. 6, Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) and attorney Erick Kaardal of the Thomas More Society sent a demand letter to Flint and City Clerk Inez Brown threatening legal action if they do not balance out the number of partisan poll watchers before the November general election. As previously reported, during Flint’s Aug. 2 primary, the city hired 422 Democrats compared to just 27 Republican election inspectors — in direct violation of a Michigan state statute that requires equal representation of party election inspectors.
On Sept. 8, Brown, after serving as Flint’s city clerk for 25 years, abruptly announced her resignation effective Sept. 30 — roughly one month before the November election. Brown gave no reason for her resignation and caught city officials by surprise.
“My administrative office was taken by surprise,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley told the Flint Beat. “I had no foreknowledge of this occurring this soon.” Because of Brown’s resignation, Neeley reached out to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office for help running the city’s elections. Benson is up for re-election this year, raising questions about the ethics of her involvement in Flint’s elections.
“Can her office be considered impartial in running the elections in Flint?” Patrice Johnson, chair of PIME told The Federalist. “The law states that if you are running for office, you cannot be an election inspector in the precinct in which you’re running.”
Despite such questions, Johnson sees Brown’s resignation as a step in the right direction. Brown’s tenure as Flint city clerk has led to multiple controversies, including giving mayoral candidates the wrong filing deadline in 2015 and alleged failure to process absentee ballots.
“The pressure we’ve put on the city led to this,” Johnson said. “This is a HUGE win.”
Regardless of Brown’s resignation, Johnson expects Flint to fully comply with PIME’s demand letter and balance its number of partisan election inspectors in time for the November election.
“In a state with more than 7 million registered voters, and where an election inspector need not live in the precinct in which they work, there is no excuse for an unhealthy imbalance of workers at our township and municipal elections,” she said.