Citizens for Detroit's Future, a rag tag army of voting rights activists, grass roots residents of Detroit , under the leadership of Tom Barrow, were trained to recount the first election of Mike Duggan, which was a write in election. The Black city of Coleman A. Young, would not, in a million lifetimes, vote for - much less write in- a white candidate who could not qualify to be on the ballot because he did not live in Detroit.
Duggan was a long time political operative out of Livonia- the whitest city in America and known for its savage racism toward Black and Brown motorists passing through to go to work. Duggan's explanation for not living in Detroit while campaigning to be mayor stated that "the kids were still in school." In other words, his children would NOT be attending Detroit Public Schools.
I was fortunate to be part of that army of recounters. We saw thousands of ballots over five days at Cobo Hall. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who oversaw the recount treated us like bums- like we had no right to be there, despite the fact that we were not getting paid and we were doing a civic duty to examine the ballots.
Our group was overwhelmingly elders; overwhelmingly Black women, many of whom took buses to the meetings and to Cobo Hall.
I was fortunate to be part of that army of recounters. We saw thousands of ballots over five days at Cobo Hall. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who oversaw the recount treated us like bums- like we had no right to be there, despite the fact that we were not getting paid and we were doing a civic duty to examine the ballots. In the end, Barrow's group hired an independent handwriting expert and the State Board of Canvassers acknowledged that there were many, many irregularities in this election, yet, Duggan prevailed. We were ignored. So we know that Detroit did not vote Duggan in, but he became mayor. He was here for the contrived bankruptcy, which was filed not by our own city council or mayor, but the emergency manager, who worked for Jones Day- the bankruptcy law firm- Kevyn Orr, who had been Duggan's college roommate. It was rumored that the governor first considered Duggan as emergency manager, but thought it would be politically better if the EM was Black. Jones Day was both debtor and creditor in the bogus, horrific bankruptcy proceedings.
The setbacks for Detroit residents under Duggan has been exponential. Duggan first ushered in the bankruptcy, making retirees lose their health care and large portions of their pensions, and clawed back their 401(k)s. Following this mass lootings of pensions, many people began to lose their homes. Water shut offs ensued. Demolitions were rampant, with Duggan's contractors given inside bidding information. Yet, Barbara McQuade never investigated Duggan for bid rigging, lying about federal contracts for mortgage relief being used for demos, for giving special preference to his favorite contractors, many of whom as his campaign contributors. Meanwhile, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sits in prison for 28 years for crimes far less than those committed by Duggan. The Detroit media, in the absence of the Michigan Citizen newspaper is Duggan's own public relations tool, very different than their relationship to Kilpatrick.
We know what it is to have our elections stolen. We know what it is to have a wildly incompetent and arrogant city clerk who laughingly tells candidates how many votes they are going to lose by once the absentees come rolling in after being cooked at Cobo Hall. We know that Detroit did not stay away from the polls in 2016, yet 65% of Detroit ballots were unrecountable. Trump only won Michigan by 10,000 votes. So we know from stolen elections.
But we still vote.
We still fight.
We still write.
We still struggle for a better process for voting.
We will keep voting because we have no choice.
But it's not like we don't know what we're up against.