A Genesee County judge dismissed a Republican lawsuit Wednesday seeking a court ruling ordering Flint election officials to hire additional GOP election workers for the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm.
The Michigan GOP and Republican National Committee filed the legal challenge last Friday, alleging that Flint election administrators violated Michigan election law requiring them to strive for an equal representation of Democrats and Republicans among their election inspector workforce. Election inspectors in Michigan staff polling locations and counting boards that process absentee ballots.
In a news release, the Michigan GOP said that the judge who presided over the case in the 7th Circuit Court for Genesee County — Judge Mark Latchana — "sided with Flint election officials in refusing to allow the hiring of an equal number of Republican election inspectors to help with election processes, in contradiction to Michigan election law."
Latchana, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, dismissed the lawsuit because he found that the Republican parties lacked standing to bring it, according to the Michigan GOP. A show cause hearing was held Wednesday afternoon in the case.
In a statement, party spokesperson Gustavo Portela called the imbalance between Democratic and Republican election workers hired in Flint alleged in the lawsuit "unacceptable" and said Republicans plan to appeal the decision.
Election officials in Michigan must strive for an equal representation of Democrats and Republicans among their election inspector workforce. Michigan election law requires local election boards to appoint "at least 1 election inspector from each major political party and … an equal number, as nearly as possible, of election inspectors in each election precinct from each major political party."
Ahead of the upcoming midterm, the RNC undertook a massive statewide campaign in Michigan to recruit more GOP election workers, focusing their efforts on the state's biggest cities that tend to lean Democratic and have historically struggled to recruit enough Republican election inspectors.
Flint city attorney Bill Kim welcomed the judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit. “We really viewed this lawsuit as political theater and an attempt to disrupt our elections,” he said. He said that the city clerk’s office has tried to achieve partisan balance in the make-up of election workers who will help administer the midterm in the city. Citing the filing in response to the lawsuit, Kim said that about 17% of the election inspector applications on file come from Republicans and a little over 20% of those appointed to work Election Day are affiliated with the Republican Party.
Those eligible to vote have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to register and cast a ballot at their local clerk’s office. To avoid postal delays, the Secretary of State's Office recommends voters request an absentee ballot in person. Polling locations will open at 7 a.m. on Election Day Nov. 8 and close at 8 p.m.
Clara Hendrickson fact-checks Michigan issues and politics as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support her work at bit.ly/freepRFA. Contact her at email@example.com or 313-296-5743. Follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: GOP lawsuit over Flint election worker hiring dismissed