Monday, January 13, 2014

What Happened: 2013 Detroit Primary Election and Recount


I ran for mayor in what turned out to be, in my opinion, a fraudulent election. I thought I would lose, but I had no idea I was participating in a farce. It gave me a front row seat to understand why Detroit never reflects the actual people who live here. I am aggrieved first in that it happened and second in how the investigation is being handled. Detroit is the graveyard for democracy - the Emergency Manager, the pre-planned bankruptcy and this election. If the rest of the country does not help us, this will spread. Below are my issues with elections here.

1. Fraud
A write-in won the 2013 Detroit Primary Election with ~40% of the vote. It was impossible. There were signs throughout campaigning that something was amiss. The press only showed up for the write-in candidate. Questions were geared toward him and there were many other signs that there was a negative undercurrent. From there impossibility upon impossibility piled up. So I sent in $10 for one precinct to be recounted. That $10 bought me truths I want to share with you and the sense of injustice I carry with me each and every day.

At the recount, challengers started to take photographs of the write-in ballots. A write-in’s lawyer asked if it was allowed. There was no rule saying that we couldn’t. So the county started to make up rules. We had 30 seconds to photograph a batch for so many seconds a ballot etc. In one of the hearings, someone asked the Wayne County Board of Canvassers (WCBC), “They are allowed to take photographs of the ballots?”. A board member said, “Yes, we might want to look into changing that.” To me, it is imperative that that right is preserved.

Challenges of individual and groups of ballots were written down and were logged on a spreadsheet by the county’s lawyers. At one of the investigative meetings the WCBC missed including me in a challenge which I had also made. So later back in the ballot recount, I went to photograph the paper the challenge was written on as a record. One of the county’s lawyers ripped the challenge from my hand and said, “Oh no, you’re not going to get me like that!”.

There were no meeting notices sent out by email after the first or second meeting and I have never seen any minutes. I don’t believe minutes were taken when they opened the ballot boxes, but I cannot know for sure since I was not privy to the minutes. You just had to find out yourself. This was a lot about shaking people off, frustrating them and making them miserable. To watch some of it, visit The challengers were treated as annoyances by many of the people running the WCBC meetings, judging from their eye rolling and the tone of voice they used which was insulting.

All the recount candidates and their supporters signed up as challengers for each others’ campaigns. These people, many unemployed and fixed income seniors, spent weeks as volunteers and spent a fortune on parking.


During the recount I saw many ballots across precincts in the same handwriting. So I made a list of similar letter styles that many challengers agreed on. Please see some samples of matching ballots here for yourself The most interesting specimen would be the one that has two of the write-in’s name on the same ballot, which are then similar to writing on two different ballots in different precincts. I had seen both styles of writing across the city. Once you have seen this sample and understand that the challengers saw thousands of them, you might understand how this is a cloud of injustice that we live with every day.

How the samples were chosen for the handwriting expert to analyze was illogical. One can conclude nothing from the “investigation” the WCBC did. At first a member of the WCBC told us that they had never agreed to bring in a handwriting expert – until I did not back down and she looked at the minutes from a previous meeting. The handwriting expert was then scheduled. This was the first in an array of red flags throughout the investigation.

The WCBC had Tom Barrow, Mr. Cole and I go over to the table where they opened ballot boxes one at a time, laid some on the table and told us to go to the table and choose the ballots we thought were fraudulent. Randomly. We were allowed to spend about 15 minutes on this.

--Pause here and consider that this is a city of 700,000 people with a billion dollar budget – we are alleging fraud about the position that controls that and we are being asked to randomly do what might take the FBI a very long time. At this point, it is clear that fraud investigations should be in the hands of specially trained law enforcement from day one.--

We were expressly forbidden from comparing sets of ballots that fit on the tables from the same precinct and between precincts.” No commingling of ballots,” one board member said, again and again. The board members took each stack of ballots from us as we picked them. We did the best we could, choosing writing styles we had seen over and over in the process as samples. It was too soon in the recount for us to be able to clearly identify them and without being able to compare precincts and stacks of ballots it was impossible to get a set in this ludicrous game of memory, which we expressed to no avail.  

About 100 dedicated volunteer Detroiters took photos of the ballots during the recount. They were printed out and matched. In about two days we had developed a methodology and matched about 40 sets of ballots with similar and near exact handwriting. We already had an alphabet of the styles of individual letters used when we started. Its not so hard when you can compare and stack them into piles with similarities. Children could probably match them it was so obvious. Its just a huge job. When Tom Barrow gave the envelope of copies of about 40 matched ballots to the board, she said it was too late – the handwriting expert was already there and she didn’t have enough people to vote to have him look at them. The handwriting expert from the write-in used the light from his phone and a magnifying glass to examine the ballots. No photography was allowed. At another meeting during the investigation I identified new sets matching ballots right in front of the WCBC and they quietly put them back in the case. Actually when the ballots were laid out and I continued to match, even being able to match to ones that were already put away, they went and sat down and looked in the distance while I pointed to matches. When they passed the matched ballots from Tom’s envelope around, they looked at them and put them back in the envelope. The end. In the envelope from a ballot box that says “originals from which copies are made” in an absentee case, the ballots which were supposedly originals were in the same handwriting I had seen over and over. I also realized that one poll book I had seen had on the last day had the familiar handwriting. There is a possibility that there were more questionable poll books but we had not been trying to match them.

Additionally, the amount of the sample – 19 – was a ridiculously low percentage of the write in ballots.  If we were to ballpark it at 40,000 ballots that were a write-in (the number of actual votes changed through each count so I am not even trying to give an exact number), 400 ballots would have been just 1%. I believe 19 ballots would be considered negligible.

On the ballots with the write-in familiar handwriting was also a similar slate of people chosen for clerk and city council. There were also ballots where the grey boxes were dark and some were light.

When the WCBC opened the case with MORE ballots in the box than in the poll book, the WCBC went and had a meeting in the corner and decided to address it another day. There were also missing blank ballots. The City explained that some ballots are just on a counter and not given out in order. There were so many issues with the absentee ballots (everything from who is verifying the signatures when the ballots come in to how the blank ballots are given out…) that it should be an investigation unto itself.

The list from the printer showing how many ballots printed was supposed to be in each ballot box. They were in none that I saw. When the WCBC produced a list from the City Clerk, it was simply a spreadsheet. When that was not accepted, the next list produced was some sheet from the printer interspersed with spreadsheets. The spreadsheet also had the wrong year on it at the top center. Having been a graphic designer and worked with a printer, I had never seen a bill like that. Bills came on the printer’s letterhead with very detailed explanations of what was printed.

The election was sent to the prosecutor for fraud because of 9 computer generated ballots all misspelled (not by the Automark for people with disabilities). It was NOT sent for the glaringly obvious handwriting or absentee issues. Red flag. As I understand it, sending it to the prosecutor opens the whole election up for investigation, not just those 9 ballots.

I understand that other candidates have taken this to Wayne County court and received little justice. The write-in candidate was the Wayne County Prosecutor in the past. Perhaps the county should have recused itself as a whole. When the WCBC was served notice that they had been called to court by many of the candidates, a lawyer from the county literally ran to the other part of the conference room with the write-in’s lawyer to speak to each other. I sat through one case where the judge openly admitted he had contributed $1000 to the write-in candidate and had been to a fundraiser and did not recuse himself. The group tried to change judges - it was sent to the chief judge, then sent back to the original judge to be heard. They lost. He was the judge in two of the cases. At the trial about the very oddly printed absentee ballots for the general election, a judge basically argued the case for the lawyers from the write-in.

The investigations so far have circumvented any real methodology to find out if what the challengers saw was true. That in itself is telling. I had never understood what it meant in legal terms “to be made whole” until this experience. During this entire process I felt my human rights were taken away, seen a justice system that was nothing I had even imagined from bad TV, and suffer every single day knowing what was done to me, a third generation Detroiter and former citizen of the year, and to my neighbors, friends, and all the good people I met while campaigning across the city.

Whose job is it to investigate this? I sent an email on September 30, 2013 to the Michigan Attorney General about my handwriting similarity concern and got my reply on January 2, 2014 simply to refer to the election law statute. I have contacted the Wayne County Prosecutor at least twice. I know from an October letter to WCBC from the Michigan AG Criminal Division that Wayne County Prosecutor sent it  to the Michigan AG, where it sat for a month and was sent back to the WCBC saying they had not done their job properly. The link the Michigan AG office provided me in the January email is no answer to my serious concerns that have not been addressed fully and justly by any entity that should be taking care of this.

Currently, I have an October 2013 FOIA request out for all the ballots and ballot materials to photograph them and save them from being destroyed. The city originally told me they would charge me about $7,000 for me to look at them. I cited case law that disputes the charges. It should be free for me to do it. These ballots are the key, the answer to why Detroit never reflects the voice of the people who live here. I am still waiting for their response.

This made me curious about past elections. I did an analysis for 2 campaign reporting periods for Dave Bing. It showed that less than 10% of donations and less than 10% of individual contributors were from Detroit. I suggest further study go into this. I would also be interested to see which individuals have given the most money over the past 30 years.

There is something malicious about this election. Blatant fraud is disturbing to everyone who saw it. Even as we have told every authority we can, every person getting paid in this country to watch over democracy as Detroiters do their jobs for free, all recount candidates and citizens have heard from day one was crickets chirping.


What would make us whole again as a city? To redress our grievances and make us whole:

1. A full real investigation into the primary election

2. If wrongdoing is found: 
  • prosecutions to all involved and a public apology by all involved
  • repayment of funds to all campaign contributors to all campaign funds who ran except those guilty of involvement
  • repayment to the city for the primary election and general election and all time spent of the election dept on the election
  • repayment to the county and the state for all time spent concerning this election
  • repayment to the candidates for their recount fees, repayment of any legal fees in pursuing justice
  • repayment for a special election to elect a real mayor of Detroit
  • repayment, hourly, to all the candidates for their time spent campaigning and for the recount and for any paid staff and volunteers
  • full prosecution for each and every ballot which was not filled in by an individual real Detroit voter 
  • full prosecution of any involvement of the press
  • an investigation into involvement in previous election debacles in Detroit 
  • and further corrections of the entire election system below:
1. Campaign Finance

It should be government financed, with all candidates getting a strict amount of money, TV, online and newspaper time. It should be a short period of time and should be when the weather is not vicious. When I ran, I had little money so was relegated to the outdoors.  I understand that they just increased the amount of money that campaign contributors can give individually. This just makes it worse. Also, campaign reports are not fully checked. For Detroit, some people are giving their business address instead of their home address on the finance reports and some are giving no address at all. It would be easier if there were some campaign finance accountant from the government who just kept track of all candidates’ finances. It is a difficult process that should be made easier for average people to run without a support staff. If there was just in-kind TV, flyers, and Ads paid for by the gov’t and a decrease in the amount of cash going into political campaigns, it would clean up a lot. I believe there are models in Europe and Canada.

2. Corporate Contributions

A white woman appeared at the recount with a name tag from a VERY large Detroit business on her purse, that contributed to one or more candidates. She greeted the Wayne County election worker and said “if 2009 didn’t make me crazy this one will”. She looked around the room crazily.

3. Emergency Manager

I did not vote for the emergency manager. I don’t have to explain all the arguments against it. I would like to add that you should see the book Law in Times of Crisis: Emergency Management and understand how the Second Reich used Emergency Management and that is partly why much of what Hitler did was legal. The emergency manager law seems to legalize also much of what would normally be prosecuted under RICO. There needs to be some new super sized version of RICO to enable prosecution of everything that is happening to Detroit. It should be looked into to see if the EM, bankruptcy and election are connected.

4. Fraud vs. Recount

If fraud is alleged, investigation into the fraud should be first before there is a recount. It should be done by trained professionals from the FBI from far outside of the area of the election. This would save money on using staff for recounting if fraud is found. Using specially trained professionals that can move from city to city is cost effective. I am sure the cheaters have them, so why don’t the American people?

5. Voting Machines: Old school is better

I understand that before I was born, votes used to be counted by hand in each precinct with the public watching. I think this should be done again. I am also against absentee voting as there is a huge latitude for fraud. For the homebound, sets of three people would go out on election day to get their vote. I am also against voting on any other day but election day. If it is important to you, you will be there, end of story, in the effort to prevent fraud. The more electronic it gets the more chance there is for fraud to go undetected by the average voter. It may be interesting to try instant run off voting. There should be no expense spared when protecting voters from fraud.

6. Transportation to the polls

In my neighborhood, I vote so far away from home it would take me about twenty minutes to walk there. The public transportation in Detroit is abysmal and makes it impossible for many of the neediest people here to vote. It should not be left up to churches and other groups because I suspect some of them are bought to bring groups to vote for certain people. People who live outside of a short walking distance (I would say about 8 blocks) from a polling place should be provided with government door to door transportation that day.

7. The press

They were AWFUL during the mayoral race. A full page announcing the write-in ( a red flag) and a small article after the debate calling most of the other candidates crazy? A PhD, three had masters, two had law degrees, two state reps and the man who cried – he was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. I suspect that an analysis of all major AND alternative newspapers will show a wildly unequal distribution of press. Again, a regulated race without ads, with gov’t paid for debate time, time to present your ideas, would be great.

The media was only there for the write-in candidate and once in awhile for the sheriff. As I understand, for the televised debate Tom Barrow got all the candidates on – the station had originally only wanted the top few. Then when the day came they split us up, putting most of the “trailing” candidates in a room with no TV while the top candidates went on first. Quickly we dispersed into the overflow audience to watch. Weren’t they surprised to see us, all made up and fixed up! The questions by the crooked mainstream media were meant to make the write-in look good and the rest of us look bad. When Tom mentioned ALEC and walked right up them and said the press were the problem, I busted out laughing. After that the editor of the Detroit News referred to me as “the crazy white lady”. I realized that they may have been purposefully making bad press for Tom Barrow for the exact reason that he knows the truth about the core of Detroit’s problems – the election system.

8. Getting on the ballot

It should be NOT allowed to pay people to get signatures to put you on the ballot nor pay people to sign. If you can’t find volunteers or do it yourself, too bad so sad. I did it with help from my friends. It was a great opportunity to speak with people and campaign. I suspect there is something going on with shelters here and paying homeless people for the signatures, but I had no time or energy to investigate. The amount of signatures required actually went up while I was gathering the signatures. I think it is too many. The old amount was fair.

9. Endorsements/slates should be illegal

They are riddled with corruption. A union, church or other organization has only a responsibility to democracy and presenting all choices to their groups in a thoughtful/fair manner. Slates etc. are just as corrupt. None of it. Stand on your own, speak your mind and if people like you, fine. At forums I suspect people pay to speak first or to be invited. This is another form of corruption from the community side. Everyone or no one.

10. Unrecountable precincts

If the numbers on the poll book DO NOT match the number of votes on the tape from the voting machine, a ballot box is NOT recountable. That is counter to common sense.

11. Recount cost

Purposefully the State passed a bill making the recount impossibly expensive for large cities and impossible for trailing candidates who believe there was fraud. As if we don’t know that is aimed at Detroit. The elections have been corrupt for possibly my whole life. They want to maintain that and so are making it out of regular folks’ price range. Unjust, uncalled for. As well, if they checked for fraud first, they would not have to recount anything. Not in Detroit at least.

12. Gerrymandering

I live in the 14th district for congressional representative. It has been gerrymandered. Look at it on the map. It is shaped like Maryland.

13. No transfer stations for ballots

There should be no transfer stations. No place in Detroit is more than 20 minutes from downtown. Transfer stations here are more than likely used for fraud.

14. Door knocking

It was unfortunate when people lived in gated/enclosed areas and apartments. It was not possible to knock on their doors.


  1. My name is John R Brakey and thank you for all your doing. Great report. I’ve worked in election oversight for the last 10 years mostly in the two largest counties in Arizona (Maricopa and Pima) which is about 75% of the state vote. Maricopa election is the 4th largest county in USA and its election department is rotten to the core. Read this from 2010:

    I’ve learned that Election fraud is committed in Arizona with impunity.

    (1) Our Attorney Bill Risner initial disclosure statement which is a mind blowing comprehensive statement of facts collected over 8 years of investigations and litigation of Pima County:

    (2) Affidavit Zbig Osmolski about who hack the RTA Election of May 16, 2006:
    (3) Invoice for the cropscanner Pima County Elections:

    (4) Fraud Flyer with 10 points:

    (5) Video - Two minutes into the video shows how Pima County Elections using a "crop scanner" to program the memory card before voting so that it would print the results they wanted as opposed to the actual votes. The purpose of the Black box report was to warn county election departments of this potential mechanism of fraud, now famously referred to as the "Hursti hack." The report came out July 4, 2005. By August 3, 2005, Pima County had purchased the same device. Video clip, 6 minutes, live at:
    (6) Video - Attorney Bill Risner Explains How Election Fraud Works in Pima County (Tucson) Arizona. This is the 19 minute version:
    (7) Link to all of AUDIT-AZ videos, total of 160:

     (8) Thursday, August 9, 2012; Arizona Election Fraud: Is Stealing Two Billion in Taxes a Crime Too Big to Prosecute? :

    (22) Arizona Election Integrity News    and SEEKING JUSTICE

  2. .Write in Fraud.. same here in Coshocton County. It happens for sure Paddy had pictures as well. It was quite obvious