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Detroit mayoral primary: Who makes the call on write-ins?

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Mike Duggan Mike Duggan
DETROIT (WJBK) -

A write-in campaign is a huge challenge, and Mike Duggan not only has to make sure his supporters spell his name correctly, he has to hope that voters will not be confused by another write-in candidate Mike Dugeon.

One member of the Duggan inner circle is confident Detroit voters can figure this out.

"Detroiters are intelligent. Detroiters can spell. We've done a great job, I feel, of educating voters in terms of the write-in process. So I'm not cynical enough to think that this is going to be this huge disaster because somehow Detroiters just can't get it," said state Sen. Tupac Hunter.

The state elections director has talked to Detroit and county election officials about how the write-ins will be determined.

Four obscure members of what is called the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, two Republicans and two Democrats, will decide which names are counted. It's a human judgement call based on the legal doctrine of determining what the voters intended to do.

"The guideline is, is there any doubt as to the voter's intent? You cannot write a guideline that takes everybody's name in the phone book and says, well, here's one spelling, and if you get these two variations, here's how you'd make that decision. This is what the Wayne County board is empanelled to do," said state Elections Director Chris Thomas.

He claimed this is not a hanging chad problem like they had in Florida years ago waiting to happen in Detroit as he is confident the canvassers will get this right.

"You've got two different spellings and you can start dealing with variations, and I think it's pretty easy to make those determinations," Thomas said.

He also conceded those determinations could face a possible court challenge, which could delay the outcome of the election for who knows how long.

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