Feds Monitoring Hamtramck Voting: No Big Deal

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Anybody reading local news headlines about the area elections may have seen that the Justice Department was present in Hamtramck to monitor the election in that city. And those familiar with Hamtramck may have thought it had something to do with the three Hamtramck men charged with mishandling absentee ballots last month. That conclusion would be sensible, logical and natural.

It would also be utterly wrong.

We spoke with Charles “Chip” Sercombe, editor of Hamtramck’s small-town paper, The Review, and he disabused us of that notion right away.

“As far as the federal oversight goes, it’s really no big deal,” he says. “It has nothing to do with those three guys being charged with [improper] absentee ballot delivery.

Nothing prompted [the Justice Department to monitor the election] other than to make sure city is complying with language requirement, to ensure that election laws and procedures are printed in several languages. And they pretty much stay in the background.”

It’s no secret that Hamtramck is the most ethnically diverse city in the entire state, and ensuring that all election materials can be read by all voters can be an exceptional challenge.

In fact, Sercombe described Election Day in Hamtramck as “quiet.” “There have been no incidents,” he said. “The big news is the unprecedented number of absentee ballots that went out. There are usually 300 or 400, and about 1,180 ballots went out as of 3 p.m. yesterday, and they expect 90 percent of them to come back.”

The mayoral contest is predicted to be especially tight, with Mayor Karen Majewski fighting for her third term as mayor against City Councilmember Abdul Algazali. The abundance of absentee ballots could tip the balance. Stay tuned.