Court reinstates charges against clerk over 2018 election

Court issued the unanimous decision Thursday
Election 2020 State Supreme Courts
Posted at 2:20 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 14:22:38-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals reinstated four criminal charges against a suburban Detroit elections clerk over her handling of absentee ballots in 2018, overturning a lower court judge’s decision to throw them out.

The court issued the unanimous decision Thursday, allowing the case against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins to move forward. She faces a total of six charges involving the 2018 general election.

According to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the state presented evidence that someone with the username “SHERIKIA@74900” altered 193 voter records to reflect that there was either no absentee ballot received or that there was not a signature included by Election Day.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said no races would have had a different outcome based on the allegations. Benson spokeswoman Aneta Kiersnowski confirmed Friday that Hawkins is still barred from managing any elections until the case concludes.

Hawkins is charged with violating election law by falsifying returns or records, misconduct in office, and using a computer to commit the other violations.

Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose office had appealed the decision to throw out the four charges, praised the appeals court’s decision.

“Election officials must uphold the integrity of their positions. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” Nessel said in a press release Friday. “While election fraud is rare in our state, our department is committed to prosecuting fraud whenever and wherever it occurs — irrespective of the political party of the perpetrator.”