Sunday, November 9, 2014

Michigan: Benton Harbor recall backer convicted of forgery for signature changes

The Benton Harbor mayoral recall fraud trial has ended, with the prime recall backer, Reverend Edward Pinkney, found guilty of five counts of forgery after deliberating for nine hours. Pickney was found not guilty on six false certification of recall petitions charge.

Pickney, who has been previously convicted of election fraud, was accused of changing the dates on the recall petitions against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. Michigan law has a very unusual provision. Petitioners have to get the recall petition approved. In most states, once approval is handed down, a clock starts on how long petitioners have to get signatures. Michigan has two clocks. From the date of approval, the petitions are valid for 180 days. But, once the signature gathering actually starts (presumably the date of the earliest signature), a different clock is in effect. Then, the petitioners must get all the signatures collected in 90 days. Pickney was accused of changing the dates of the signatures to meet that 90 day requirement.

This is just the part dealing with Pickney. The petitions (which were ultimately rejected) led to a noteworthy  Michigan Court of Appeals ruling.

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