Former candidate accused of forging absentee ballot applications

A man who ran for the Sterling Heights city Council in the November 2021 election is accused of forging absentee ballot applications, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Paul Manni, 27, of Sterling Heights, has been charged with nine counts of forging a signature on an absent voter ballot application and nine counts of making a false statement on an absent voter ballot application.

None of the applications turned in by Manni resulted in a valid ballot going to the voter, Nessel said.

Leading up to the election, the Sterling Heights city clerk became suspicious when Manni dropped off approximately 50 absentee voter applications with his signature and an indication he was delivering the applications at the voter's request, reports said.

Staff contacted nine of the voters whose applications were submitted to verify they wished to apply for an absentee ballot. None of the nine voters wanted to apply for an absentee ballot, reports said.

The Clerk then contacted the Bureau of Elections to report the suspected fraud, which prompted an investigation.

Manni was arraigned on the charges on August 5.

 “These charges prove the state’s signature matching standards and other election security checks and balances catch instances of wrongdoing, prompt thorough investigations and result in appropriate action,” Nessel said. “I appreciate our ongoing partnership with the BOE to root out attempts to undermine our elections.”

A probable cause conference is scheduled for August 18 at 1:00 p.m. 

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