Flint, MI — A recall effort against Flint City Council Vice President Ladel Lewis has failed after a review of petition signatures came up 63 short.
On Oct. 3, 2023, Genesee County Clerk Domonique Clemons confirmed that after both his office and the Flint City Clerk’s office completed a review of the 1,022 submitted signatures, only 722 were valid.
The recall required 785 valid signatures to move to a ballot measure.
“As the City Councilwoman for Flint’s Second Ward, I want to reaffirm my commitment to serving Flint residents,” Lewis shared in a prepared statement after the outcome. “I love my community and I want to see Flint thrive. That’s why I am called to serve on the Flint City Council. I appreciate the trust that Second Ward residents have given me to represent them well.”
While Oct. 2 news reports on Lewis’ recall outcome stated the effort had failed, it was later learned that the Flint City Clerk’s Office had misplaced six of the 87 pages of signatures provided by the county clerk’s office after its initial review.
Clemons said he did not wish to speak for the Flint City Clerk’s office, but he did confirm that six pages had gone missing ahead of the Oct. 3 signature confirmation.
“On Friday [Sept. 29], they [the city clerk’s office] submitted back to us the originals with a letter saying that they checked them and that they verified there were 675 valid signatures on 81 pages,” Clemons explained.
The original 87 pages of signatures were turned into the County Clerk’s office on Sept. 12.
Clemons’ office had made copies of the originals, he said, which were all date stamped.
So, upon realizing the city clerk’s team had misplaced some of the pages, his team went through their copies, page by page, to find the six missing signature sheets and provided those copies to the Flint City Clerk for further review.
“That six pages included 68 signatures, of which the city of Flint said 53 were valid,” Clemons said. However, because seven signatures were duplicates from other validated pages, those signatures actually were invalidated as a result of the further review.
“So, putting all that together, we then get a final number of 721 valid signatures for this recall,” Clemons said, which was upped to 722 when his office determined one additional address was valid even though it was “hard to read.”
Sherry D. Allen, who filed the petition language against Lewis, told Flint Beat on Oct. 3 that she did not yet wish to speak on the outcome.
Clemons said she and the circulators are able to challenge the clerks’ decision, but that process would need to be done in court given that the recall is now considered closed due to lack of valid signatures.
“Other than that, the petitioner, or anybody else, can file a new recall and start the process from scratch,” Clemons added, noting that he and the Flint City Clerk also welcome any questions regarding the signatures deemed invalid.
“Our office believes in democracy and everyone’s right of democracy, and that includes challenging their elected officials in a recall,” Clemons said. “We are going to ensure that we take the checks and balances to make sure that everything is accounted for, and this is an example of checks and balances … This is why we had additional copies so that if something goes missing, we have proof of everything that’s transpired.”
According to Clemons, the county clerk’s office conducts an initial signature review prior to sending the sheets over to the city clerk’s office.
“My office does a preliminary check,” Clemons said, during which his staff reviews the submitted pages to confirm three things.
First, the petition language should match the language approved by the Genesee County Election Commission. Second, each sheet must be signed by the person gathering signatures on that page.
“And when we say sign, that means it needs to be signed, their printed name, the date, and the full address of the circulator,” Clemons said.
Third, the county clerk’s office checks to make sure each signer provided a printed name, signed name, address and the date they signed the petition.
Clemons said in his office’s initial review, 45 signatures of the 1,022 submitted were invalidated, as two pages were missing circulator information, some people put their birthdate rather than signature date, and others had addresses missing.
Flint City Clerk Davina Donahue did not respond to Flint Beat’s request for comment by press time.
According to Clemons, in reviewing signatures, the Flint clerk’s office is tasked with manually confirming if a signer is a registered voter, where they are registered to vote, and whether the signature on the petition matches their signature on file with the city clerk.