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Nessel, Benson discuss election fraud charges

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 17:13:23-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Michigan's Attorney General, Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Joceyln Benson announced on Monday election fraud charges in southeastern Michigan.

“When we took office, both Secretary Benson and I committed to doing everything in our power to make sure that Michigan’s elections were safe from every conceivable threat,” said Nessel. “That commitment – made to the people of this state – includes taking swift and decisive action when a public official fails to fulfill the important role that he or she plays in protecting the integrity of our elections.”

Six felony charges were filed in Oakland County 46th District Court against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins.

Discrepancies in the Southfield voter count were brought to the Secretary of State’s attention by the Oakland County Clerk’s office following its efforts to certify Southfield’s absentee ballots. Michigan State Police conducted a thorough investigation and determined that election records had been altered, according to the press release after the announcement.

The charges stemmed from the November 6 general election in 2018.

“Today upon learning that the Southfield City Clerk was formally charged with multiple crimes under Michigan election law, I exercised my authority under Michigan law to exert supervisory control over local election officials and directed the clerk to refrain from administering any election while there are charges pending against her,” Benson said. “Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and under my and Attorney General Nessel’s administration there will be no tolerance for any actions that undermine that foundation – anywhere, anytime, by any person or official.”

Here are the charges:
• Count One. Election Law – Falsifying Returns/Records, a five-year felony and/or $1,000;
• Count Two. Forgery of a Public Record, a 14-year felony;
• Count Three. Misconduct in Office, a five-year felony and/or $10,000;
• Count Four. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Election Law – Falsifying Returns/Records, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000;
• Count Five. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Forgery of a Public Record, a 10-year felony and/or $10,000;
• Count Six. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Misconduct in Office, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000.

Hawkins, 38, of Southfield, was elected city clerk in November 2017, prior to being the city clerk of Pontiac, which was a non-elected position.

Hawkins turned herself in and was charged and arraigned late this morning in the 46th District Court (Southfield) on 6 felony counts in front of visiting judge Michelle Friedman Appel, chief judge of the 45th District Court. Hawkins was given a $15,000 personal bond and a probable cause conference was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30.

A preliminary examination hearing is set for Tuesday, Oct. 15, before Judge Appel.

The conference was live from Detroit.

Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (D-Southfield) have issued the following response to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s announcement of election fraud charges filed against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins:

“As Southfield legislators, we are shocked by the charges brought against Clerk Hawkins. We support due process and the presumption of her innocence as she responds to them.

“Absentee ballots will start to go out this week for the upcoming November municipal election and Secretary Benson has removed Clerk Hawkins from administering this election. We can assure our Southfield neighbors that their votes will be counted.”

00:03 / 00:30SKIP ADYou can watch the announcement here: MI Attorney General on Facebook

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