[Voting in the town which Whirlpool controls]
Benton Harbor absentee ballot fury forces recount (article summarized)
The Michigan Citizen, by Bankole Thompson
BENTON HARBOR – As in Detroit, an absentee ballot controversy engulfs the city of Benton Harbor.
At the center of the matter is the allegation of possible ballot tampering.
A 30-year-veteran politician, City Commissioner Ralph Crenshaw, running for re-election, was seen carrying a box of AV ballots to the Donald C. Mitchell Federal Building where the ballots were being counted on election night.
“He should not have touched those ballots because he was a candidate in the election,” said Etta Harper who ran for commissioner-at-large seat in a tightly contested race. Harper came in third. She received 261 votes, Crenshaw, 270; and former commissioner Rickie Hill had the highest number with 281.
Harper is demanding answers as to why a candidate in a race would be carrying ballots with him.
...“What I was told by a couple of different people who were there was that one of the election workers was on her way to the election hall and needed help. She is a senior citizen,” Stein [clerk] said. “She called for help and nobody showed up. So finally commissioner Crenshaw asked if he could do it. That’s what two different people told me.”
However election law prohibits candidates from handling ballots. Requests for a recount can be made six calendar days after the election.
Stein advised Harper to take her case to the County prosecutor’s office. Harper said she did just that. “We asked the prosecutor to allow the state police to investigate it. The prosecutor has turned it over to the Sheriff’s Department,” Harper said.
Harper said she does not feel the Sheriff’s deputies could handle the case thoroughly and independently given numerous cases with the city in the past. She wants the state police to come in.
The Rev. Edward Pinkney, an activist minister, said the Benton Harbor election was fraught with problems.
“The election assistants were turning registered voters away,” Pinkney said. “ If you moved from your address from the last 60 days you were not eligible to vote at the precinct. But they turned away people who moved three weeks.”
In some cases the names of precinct listed on voters’ registration certificates were not the ones they were to cast their vote at.
“Most young people who came to the polls did not bother to challenge it. They just returned home,” Pinkney said. “Most young people said they were voting for Harper.”
A poll watcher at Calvin Briton elementary school said a young female voter was turned away because she walked into the precinct 15 minutes before the polls closed at 8:pm.
“The girl was there before eight and they said she can’t vote,” Kinnard said.
Crenshaw could not be reached and Benton Harbor City Clerk Joyce Taylor did not return calls.