A Michigan official who earlier this year received an award from the state’s Democratic Party is now facing six felony charges for allegedly forging records and falsely marking absentee ballots as invalid during the 2018 election.
According to Fox News, Sherikia Hawkins, 38, city clerk for the city of Southfield, was arrested Monday after the Oakland County Clerk’s office noticed discrepancies in voter counts while certifying absentee ballots from Southfield. State police investigated and found that records had been altered so that nearly 200 voter files were improperly listed as invalid.
“Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and under my and Attorney General [Dana] Nessel’s administration there will be no tolerance for any actions that undermine that foundation — anywhere, anytime, by any person or official,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement.
According to court documents, Michigan police found that 193 absentee voter files were changed in the city’s computer system to say they either had no signature or no return date, when they had both valid signatures and return dates. Police stated that after Oakland County Election Director Joseph Rozell found that Hawkins had submitted altered reports, his staff found the original ones in a trash can at the election division office.
Hawkins’ alleged actions, did not alter the outcome of any election, Benson stressed, and “there were no voters that were disenfranchised.”
“All valid votes in the election were ultimately counted and the final official vote total was accurate,” Benson said.
Yeah, we’re not buying it, either…
The report notes that 193 absentee voter “Qualified Voter Files” were altered in the computer system. The records show that Hawkins’ computer and unique name “made the alterations in the computer system to the QVF for these voters,” the complaint says.
Benson said she sent a letter to Hawkins on Monday, saying that the pending charges compromise her ability to administer the upcoming Nov. 5 city election. In the interim, she said, the state’s Bureau of Elections with work with staff in the Southfield clerk’s office to handle all administration of elections in the city.
“My office will remain actively involved” to ensure elections in Southfield run smoothly, Benson said. “Our response is careful, measured, swift and the consequences are severe.”
Multiple City Council members could not be immediately reached on Monday. Two others, Myron Frasier and Tawnya Morris, declined to comment, saying they were not yet informed of the specifics. Mayor Kenson J. Siver’s office deferred to the city’s community relations department, which released a statement saying the city would conduct an internal investigation.