By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck is not alone in experiencing improper handling of absentee ballots.
The city clerk of Dearborn Heights, Walt Prusiewicz, is asking the Attorney General’s Office to look into the handling of hundreds of absentee voter applications.
Prusiewicz said two people handed in the applications but failed to sign their name to them as required by law.
Most of the applications belong to voters of Arabic descent.
The request for the investigation immediately drew protests from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who accused the city clerk of voter suppression.
The AG’s Office has yet to rule on the matter.
In Hamtramck’s case, it wasn’t the handling of AV applications but the way actual ballots were submitted that caught the attention of the City Clerk’s Office.
Four Hamtramck men, all Bangladeshi-Americans, are accused of felonies for turning in ballots from mostly Bangladeshi-American voters who were not related to them or are not part of their household during last year’s November election.
According to state law, only family members of voters — or those who live in the household — can return the ballots of those voters.
After the men were charged, CAIR and other supporters of the men held a protest across from city hall in Zussman Park. Outside of that protest, the Hamtramck case has not generated media interest.
The four men have been through pre-trial examinations and are awaiting further legal action in Wayne County Circuit Court. If their preliminary hearings are any indication, their defense will be that the law is unconstitutional and that the City Clerk’s Office only applied the law because the men were minorities.
Hamtramck City Clerk August Gitschlag has vehemently denied the charge, saying in previous instances of people returning absentee ballots it was only one or two ballots.
The four men turned in several ballots each. Gitschlag said all he did was notify the Secretary of State Office, which turned it over to the AG’s Office.