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County clerk says Flint Police should continue to investigate recall signatures

Flint Police Department investigating signatures placed on a recall petition against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore/WSMH)

Flint Police continue their investigation into some concerns over tactics used to collect thousands of recall signatures against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. Lathan Jefferson is one of the people who contact authorities after he was approached outside of the Flint Public Library.

“I told the guy I wasn’t going to sign it because I’m illiterate. So he held it up to his chest and told me to trust him and sign it anyway. Which I obviously didn’t do,” Jefferson says.

Flint police allege some signature collectors obtained those signature through ‘fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation’. But some residents are worried about a conflict of interest between the mayor’s office and the police department. Genesee County Clerk John Gleason doesn’t believe one exists.

“When a chief takes the oath of office to serve his community, he ought to be able to do just that. No one else should come in and take care of it for him,” Gleason says.

He does say that this is a very bitter and emotional moment for the community.

“The issue is that you’ve got an administration that is clinging to office, so they’re going to use every defense to stave off the recall. This recall is far worse than the previous one we went through,” Gleason explained.

Michigan state law though does provide some clarity in a situation where signatures are being questioned. According to the law, it’s the responsibility of the person signing the petition to understand what it says, and therefore those signatures should be valid. Gleason also agrees that police should be allowed to approach people’s homes if there’s evidence any signature may have been done illegally. But he hopes police keep a few things in mind.

“You just can’t walk up to someone’s door and ask them if they signed something, and why. That’s an intrusion on their civil rights. If you are an officer, or the Chief of Police, or work for the city in any capacity, treat the citizens with the respect they deserve. You are being paid by them, you are working for them,” Gleason says.

If more than 201 signatures are found to be invalid it would mean Weaver could petition a judge to stop the recall process. Art Woodson, who spearheaded the campaign, would also be given an opportunity to argue against removing the signatures.

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