Advance Notice: Briefs

Judge rejects Karamo’s election lawsuit, says it would disenfranchise Detroit voters

By: - November 7, 2022 3:50 pm

Republican nominee for secretary of state Kristina Karamo speaks at a rally with gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Southfield, Mich. on Oct. 29, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny rejected on Monday GOP Secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo’s lawsuit attempting to disqualify absentee voters in Detroit, calling it “unprecedented” and “intolerable.”

“Such harm to the citizens of the city of Detroit, and by extension the citizens of the state of Michigan, is not only unprecedented, it is intolerable,” Kenny wrote in his opinion. 

That came after a lengthy hearing last week where Karamo asked the court to require Detroit residents to vote in person, claiming concerns about fraud. Kenny wrote that plaintiffs failed to produce “any shred of evidence” of the claim and said it would harm Detroit voters.

City of Detroit Department of Elections ballot drop box in Detroit. | Ken Coleman

“The idea that the Court would single out one community in the state to be treated adversely when Plaintiffs have provided no evidence in support of their allegation simply cannot be allowed to occur,” Kenny wrote.

Michigan voters approved Proposal 3 in 2018, a constitutional amendment that includes the right to same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. 

Karamo was among Republicans who falsely claimed there was voter fraud in Detroit in 2020. President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, but his supporters, including Karamo, have continued to sow doubt in Michigan’s election system. 

Karamo’s lawsuit stated that voting in person or through a ballot obtained in person at the clerk’s office “is the only valid process of identity in the statute because the [Michigan secretary of state] failed to promulgate a signature comparison rule.” 

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is up against Karamo in Tuesday’s election, proposed changes to how the state verifies signatures earlier this year, but the GOP-led Legislature hasn’t taken action to adopt the rules before they take effect in late December. Last week, a Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Secretary of State and election clerks will continue to follow the poll challenger guidance put in place by Benson earlier this year. 

As of Thursday, more than 60,000 absentee ballots have been returned to the Detroit City Clerk’s office. 

This decision from Kenny came less than 24 hours before polls open in Michigan.

“Plaintiffs have raised a false red flag of election law violations and corruption concerning Detroit’s procedures from the Nov. 8 election,” Kenny wrote. “This court’s ruling takes down that flag.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an amicus brief Friday and called the suit “nothing more than a naked attempt to spread misinformation ahead of [Tuesday’s] election.”  

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.