LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) -- A 27-year-old man who was unsuccessful in a bid for the Sterling Heights City Council is facing felony charges from Michigan's Attorney General related to ballot application forgeries.
According to the AG's Office, Paul Manni of Sterling Heights faces 18 charges in Macomb County's 41-A District Court. Nine of the counts are for forging a signature on an absent voter ballot application (5-year felonies), and the other nine counts are making false statements on absent voter ballot applications (90-day misdemeanors).
AG Dana Nessel said Manni was arraigned on August 5 and that the charges stem from the November 2021 election.
Leading up to that election, the City Clerk for Sterling Heights alerted election officials that a City Council candidate, Manni, had personally dropped off 50 absentee voter applications with his signature. Manni reportedly stated he was delivering the applications at the voters' request. The Clerk's staff contacted nine voters from the applications to verify that they applied for an absentee ballot. All nine said they didn't apply for an absentee ballot, Nessel said.
The Clerk contacted the Bureau of Elections and reported suspected fraud, which launched the investigation into Manni. Nessel says none of the applications that Manni turned in resulted in a valid ballot going to the voter.
"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."
Manni's next court date is August 18 for a probable cause conference.
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