Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American vo - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

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DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (MyFox Detroit) - It is the tale of two cities. One paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.

Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters for the upcoming midterm primary.

He allegedly delayed the processing of more than 200 absentee ballot applications - many of which the clerk says were improperly filed.
Prusiewiscz resigned amid allegations of voter suppression, but rescinded his resignation before it became official.

"I hold the right to vote very important," said Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko. "I think he should have gotten those ballots out sooner."

City Councilwoman Marge Horvath defended Prusiewicz.

"His integrity is without question, his honesty is without question," she said. "When it comes to voting you want him in your corner."

It was the topic of a fiery Dearborn Heights City Council meeting Tuesday night.

"Certain voters with Anglo-Saxon names had their applications processed," Abdrabboh said at the council meeting. "Whereas applications with Middle-Eastern sounding names were not."

Prusiewicz reported the ballots to the state and says he was told not to issue the ballots by mail - but later told to send him, since his office accepted them unsigned. .

"About 20 percent didn't match each other," Horvath said. "Everybody else, their ballot was in the mail delivered to the post office tonight at 5 p.m."

The clerk's resignation details inefficiency in city hall, Prusiewiscz working double shifts six or seven says a week because his office was not properly staffed.
The letter alleges a single person dropped off hundreds of absentee ballots, but none were signed as required by law. Prisiewicz reported the ballots to the state and said he was told not to issue them by mail but later told to send them since it was his office that accepted them unsigned.

Paletko says that hundreds of applications were held even though only a few of them appeared to be improperly filled out.

The state's attorney general office and the Wayne County prosecutor's office are aware of what is happening and are keeping an eye on what is going on.

Prusiewicz and his wife were upset but would not go on camera.

Prusiewicz did release a statement to Fox 2, saying, "Any qualified elector that has requested an absentee ballot has been issued a ballot and all future requests will be honored as quickly as possible. I remain committed to conduct a fair and ethical election in the city of Dearborn Heights and have always done so in the past. I'm sure when the facts are examined, the city clerk's office will be found to be compliant  and this electoral process and these allegations will be unfounded."

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