Court will be asked to cancel Benton Harbor recall election

Alleged election law violations may scrap a planned trip to the polls for voters in Benton Harbor.

The move to cancel comes less than two weeks away from the date established for the Mayoral Recall Election (May 6th).

At first it looked like Reverend Edward Pinkney and James Cornelius submitted the proper paperwork to force a recall. After further investigation, each now faces criminal charges that allege they cheated.

In fact, it’s alleged that felony forgery was involved on Pinkney’s part. Pinkney isn’t accused of forging signatures but he is accused of doctoring dates on the petitions to make it look like the names were gathered within the time frame required by law—when that was not the case.

The question now becomes—what to do with the May 6th scheduled recall election?

“I think it needs to stop, and I think they need to learn how to tolerate, carry out his position until the end, you know,” said Benton Harbor resident Effie Brown. “If they put the Pope in there, they’re not going to be happy, nobody’s ever satisfied in this city you know but as a taxpayer I’m kind of tired of it.”

“It makes me very angry because Benton Harbor’s been through enough with the city council and city hall and bad things over the years,” said city resident Andrea Sanchez.

In a written statement released today, the Clerk of Berrien County announced that she will seek a court order to stay the election and she will ask that the election not be rescheduled until the criminal proceedings run their course.

“I don’t know if it’s true or not, I don’t really stress too many things that are said in government today,” said Dawah Yisrael, a Benton Harbor resident. “The people who are saying individuals did certain things is because they want to stop those people from possibly doing something good in the end.”

Without a recall election, the term of current Mayor James Hightower will expire at the end of 2015.

Rev. Pinkney was convicted of election fraud related charges in 2007 when he offered men at a soup kitchen $5 each if they cast ballots.

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