Smith Alleges Absentee Ballot Fraud in Sterling Heights
Embattled City Councilman Paul Smith closed out his “Meet the Candidates” appearance today with an allegation of absentee ballot fraud in Sterling Heights.
Speaking live on camera, Smith closed out his summary speech by suggesting that his candidacy for office was threatened by back room “hand work” by city campaign officials on absentee ballots.
“I hope you will vote for me on November 5th, I hope you will vote ‘No’ on the tax hike November 5th. My optimum result would be this: vote no and Paul Smith are tied for first. And please, vote in person on a voting machine on November 5th on election day. I don’t have any confidence in the absentee ballot system. I see a lot of hand work in the back room, and if you want your vote to count, please vote for me in person on a voting machine. Thank you very much.”
Mr. Smith refused to answer any questions from me immediately after the event.
Speaking on the record shortly after the event, Councilman Joe Romano stated:
“I think it’s an insult that Mr. Smith brought that up because there is no funny business in our election.”
Romano went on to cite his confidence in the integrity of both Walter Blessed, former City Clerk, as well as Mark Carufel, the current city clerk.
Candidate Doug Skrzyniarz stated:
“The voting process is a sacred part of our democracy. Unless Mr. Smith has any actual evidence of impropriety, he owes it to the residents and his supporters to retract his statement. I have met his supporters, I have a lot of respect for them. They have very strong beliefs. They believe in Mr. Smith, and I know from meeting with them they do not believe in such conspiracy theories. This is something that is very unbecoming of his supporters…he owes it to them to retract the statement because it puts them in a bad light.”
Mark Carufel, City Clerk, left a voicemail which stated the following:
“I have not had the opportunity to review Mr. Smith’s comments, although I guess my response is Mr. Smith has not communicated to me any concern with the (absentee ballot) process. As far as I know, he has not articulated any concern to anyone in the administration. So I am not sure what his concerns are but he has not articulated what those concerns are to City Administration or the City Clerk’s Office.”
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Carufel expanded on his comments with the city’s official response:
“The city of Sterling Heights has an exemplary record and reputation in the administration of all elections. It is regrettable that an elected official of the city feels compelled to make baseless accusations to further a political campaign.”
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Taylor responded to Mr. Smith’s allegation by email:
“Mr. Smith’s comments are absurd and irresponsible. Absurd because in 2011 I received more absentee votes than any other candidate despite teaming up with the Mayor’s opponent and generally being persona non grata at city hall. Irresponsible because residents look to council members for information regarding the city. It is absolutely reprehensible for a council member to accuse the city of engaging in widespread voter fraud, before an election, without a single shred of proof to back up his claims. This is just another black eye for a disgraced council member who the voters should send back to retirement.”
Candidate Nate Shannon weighed in on Saturday with this:
“I have full confidence in the absentee ballot system which is handled responsibly by the clerks office, headed by Mr Carufel. I think preying on the fears of seniors is irresponsible and unwarranted, especially without evidence to suggest the existence of malfeasance. “