DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is going into the November election with a record number of absentee ballot applications, severe staffing issues, critics from President Trump on down, and working multiple shifts to avoid the same trouble that happened in the August primary.
There will be 200,000 absentee ballot applications processed. City employees from other departments are on loan to the clerk from Mayor Mike Duggan to get the work done now and on Election Day.
At the same time, new employees are being trained ten at a time with COVID-19 protocols in place everywhere in the elections division.
Mayor Duggan says he’s getting some employees from Blue Cross and Quicken Loans. The Secretary of State says she’s ready with 6,000 for Detroit as needed.
City Clerk Winfrey says she has a grant of $7 million to pay for the additional help, adding “we know in order to get quality work, in order to get quality staff you have to pay people. You have to pay people to work 10 and 15 hours a day.”
Mayor Duggan said during an online video conference with the Center for American Progress yesterday that President Trump and others are watching major cities very closely.
“If we do not find ways across this country to count mail-in ballots quickly, accurately, there’s going to be a real question on the legitimacy of the election. We all know what Donald Trump is capable of,” Duggan said.
During the August primary, the count of absentee ballots was off in 72% of the precincts.
Winfrey tells 7 Action News that she won’t predict when final numbers will be done in November. She’s calling "Election Day," "election week."
“Monumental for us,” she says with a smile. “I’m remaining focused. I have to keep the chatter out my ear. I have to keep the politics out my ear. I have to keep the 'what you’re not doing' out of my ear.”