Michigan City Clerk Retires After Demand For Election Inspector Fairness

Inez Brown, longtime city clerk of Flint, Michigan, announced her retirement after receiving a letter from an election integrity group demanding an equal number of Democratic and Republican election inspectors.

The letter came on Sept. 6 from Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) noting that, during Flint’s Aug. 2 primary, the city hired 449 election inspectors who were either Democrats or Republicans. Of that total, 422 were Democrats.

This is in direct conflict with Michigan state law, which demands equal numbers for representatives of political parties for election inspectors. On Sept. 8, just two days after the letter was sent, Brown suddenly announced her resignation effective Sept. 30.

That, of course, comes just over a month ahead of the general election. She gave no official reason to city leadership for her stepping away.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said that the city was “taken by surprise” and there was “no foreknowledge” of her walking away so quickly. The city has already reached out to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office for assistance in running the city’s balloting.

Even then, critics wonder if Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office should be assisting in elections as she is herself running for reelection in November.

Patrice Johnson, PIME chair, said that the resignation is a major move in the right direction for the city’s elections. There have been multiple questionable incidents during Brown’s tenure.

She reportedly gave mayoral candidates the wrong filing deadline in 2015 and has been accused of not processing absentee ballots. Johnson said that the pressure the group applied to the city led to this moment and called it a “huge win.”

Michigan does not require election inspectors to live in the precinct in which they work, which should make filling the positions in accordance with state law a reasonable expectation.

A slight imbalance is one thing, 422-27 is wholly another. It is of utmost importance that elections be above board and beyond reproach, and therefore unacceptable that the city of Flint skewed inspectors so far in the favor of Democrats. The resignation gives city voters a significant victory.