City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins was arrested and charged with six felonies.
The Michigan State Police joined Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Joceyln Benson in the announcement.
The charges stem from the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, officials said.
Officials said in the release that 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.
The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation, according to officials, and determined that election records had been altered.
“Hawkins turned herself in and was charged and arraigned in 46th District Court on six felony counts in front of visiting Judge Michelle Friedman Appel, who is the chief judge of the 45th District Court.
Officials said Hawkins was given a $15,000 personal bond, and a probable cause conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sept. 30.
Harold Gurewitz, an attorney for Hawkins, said his team is still looking over the charges against Hawkins.
“Ms. Hawkins has been an elected official in public office and held the responsibility of, I think, 17 elections, and she has received nothing but praise,” Gurewitz said. “I think that when we review this and have an opportunity to contest the charges, we’ll be vindicated.”
Southfield Community Relations Director Michael Manion said the city is cooperating with the investigation.
“The city does not have all of the facts at this time and there will be no rush to judgement. The city will also be conducting a thorough internal investigation and review of these charges,” Manion said in a prepared statement. “After the city has examined the underlying facts of this matter, we will explore all appropriate and legal avenues to protect the voting process and rights of the Southfield citizenry.”
Manion said in the statement that Hawkins will be placed on administrative leave with pay.
“Our process of checks and balances works,” Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said in a prepared statement. “We identified the alleged fraud as a result of the dedicated work done by my office and our County Board of Canvassers, ensuring every ballot was counted and no voters were disenfranchised.”
Due to the nature of the ongoing investigation, Brown said no further comment would be made.
Nessell said she and Benson made a commitment to ensure Michigan’s elections were safe from threats.
“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,” she said in a prepared statement.
“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,” Benson said in a prepared statement.
Hawkins, who was elected as Southfield city clerk in 2017, has been charged with:
– Election law falsifying returns/records, punishable by five years and/or $1,000.
– Forgery of a public record, a 14-year felony.
– Misconduct in office, punishable by five years and/or $10,000.
– Using a computer to commit a crime election law falsifying returns/records, punishable by seven years and/or $5,000.
– Using a computer to commit a crime forgery of a public record, a 10-year felony and/or $10,000.
– Using a computer to commit a crime misconduct in office, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000.
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