Only on 7: Hundreds of missing absentee ballots prompt investigation in Detroit

Posted at 4:07 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 16:44:39-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — What happened to hundreds of absentee ballots lost in the mail in Detroit?

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey says she is working with Detroit postal officials to investigate missing absentee ballots inside the postal system. The clerk says they have documented 500 lost in the mail in several post offices in zip codes in Northwest Detroit.

7 Action News contacted Winfrey about the issue last Friday. Winfrey says postal officials are telling her the missing ballots can’t be found.

“They swept the entire building and they did not find anything out of the ordinary. In other words, they didn’t find any stacks of ballots that weren’t being processed in the mail,” Winfrey said.

She says they know of 500 missing ballots because voters had contacted her office. Winfrey says her office sent them out and they got lost in the mail. She says the process for the 500 voters is those lost ballots have to be spoiled and voters can get new ballots, “We’ll have them sign an affidavit saying they’re going to spoil the ballot that’s somewhere in the mail and then we issue them another ballot right there that they can vote right there in the vote center.”

Detroit has 23 voting centers open daily and 30 drop boxes for Absentee Ballots. Winfrey is urging voters to use those and not the mail. She is sending out Absentee Ballots through overnight mail to avoid delays.

Detroit Postal Officials have declined an interview about this but provided a statement:

"With a record number of people across the country voting by mail, the U.S. Postal Service’s number one priority between now and the November election is the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail.

Regarding ballots in Detroit, the Postal Service has been made aware of a number of ballots that have not been delivered as anticipated and is researching the issue. Extensive clearance processes were employed at all facilities to confirm that all ballots were processed and delivered as received by the Postal Service.

We are working with the city election clerk to quickly deliver replacement ballots, and ensure the timely delivery of all other ballots in the area for the remainder of the election season. We continue to work with the Detroit City Board of Election and look forward to the successful election day."