Benton Harbor mayoral recall election suspended - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Benton Harbor mayoral recall election suspended

Judge John Dewane's office issued a ruling Thursday at noon suspending the Benton Harbor mayoral recall election.  The question had been scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

The reason we are even having this question is because of election forgery allegations against community activist Edward Pinkney.  Pinkney is charged with changing dates of signatures on the recall petition.  The petition was submitted in January,. Benton Harbor City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad is running to replace Mayor James Hightower.

The judges specifically avoided ruling on whether dates were changed, but said that he believed there was "a substantial probability of establishing that the questioned signatures were obtained" before they could legally be used. 

County Clerk Sharon Tyler issued a statement in response to the stay, she was "relieved that the sanctity of the election process in Berrien County will be protected.

Until the case is concluded, the county clerk has been ordered to retain all ballots, including submitted absentee ballots, for the election," and that "Seeking the stay and further examination of the recall petitions in the City of Benton Harbor has been a very difficult, but necessary, decision."

The judge has ordered a trial to examine whether the signatures were in fact obtained early, and therefore invalid.  A pretrial conference is set for Monday, May 19.  Judge Dewane has ordered that the trial be concluded by July 11.
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