LANSING, Mich. – The leaders of four black statewide groups may challenge the results of Saturday's Democratic caucuses because some caucus sites weren't open or had been moved, Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus Chairman Derek Albert (search) said.
"We feel very strongly that African-Americans were disenfranchised today. ... You had people running from site to site looking for where they could vote. ... We're calling for a new election," he told the Associated Press.
"We just went through this in Florida in 2000. Michigan should be above this. The Democratic Party should be above this. We're not going to tolerate this."
The challenge would come from the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, the NAACP of Michigan (search), the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and the National Action Network Michigan Chapter. The four groups plan to hold a news conference Monday to announce their intentions after meeting with a lawyer Sunday, Albert said.
Democratic caucus sites in the city of Detroit were staying open an extra two hours Saturday because of problems earlier in the day with some sites being moved or closed, the party said. During the extended hours Saturday, voters could vote at any caucus site in Detroit rather than just the one they had been assigned previously.
Michigan Democratic Party Executive Chairman Mark Brewer (search) said all sites in Detroit would stay open until 6 p.m. EST, while sites in the rest of the state closed as scheduled at 4 p.m. EST. But a check of several Detroit sites found them closed after 4 p.m.
Caucus worker James Mitchell III said he and other workers at Ebenezer AME Church never heard they were supposed to stay open until 6 p.m.
"At my site, we closed at 4 p.m. on the dot. We gave maybe a five-minute grace (period). We closed the doors, we counted the ballots, and I'm in the process of dropping the ballots off," he said as he pulled into the 14th District Democratic headquarters around 5:10 p.m.
"We tried to get the word out as quickly as we could," Brewer said when told some sites weren't open until 6 p.m.
Seven caucus sites in Detroit were moved to other locations, said Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Jason Moon. There are 134 caucus sites in the city. He was unsure about how many sites in other cities were moved.
Mitchell said Ebenezer AME opened its doors because a caucus site that was supposed to be at a church across the street never opened. But he said most voters, while a little perturbed, managed to find the right caucus site without too much problem.