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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Complaint flushed: No charge in toilet election display

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 22, 2020

A political display is set up in the lawn of a home on West Columbia Street in Mason, Mich., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Barb Byrum, the Democratic clerk of Ingham County, filed a complaint with police over the display, saying it could mislead people who aren’t familiar with how mail-in voting works.  (Matthew Dae Smith)
A political display is set up in the lawn of a home on West Columbia Street in Mason, Mich., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Barb Byrum, the Democratic clerk of Ingham County, filed a complaint with police over the display, saying it could mislead people who aren’t familiar with how mail-in voting works. (Matthew Dae Smith)
Associated Press

MASON, Mich. — A prosecutor in Michigan has flushed a complaint about a toilet that was promoted as a place to drop absentee ballots.

The election clerk in Ingham County informed police about a toilet on the front lawn of a home in Mason, near Lansing. A sign said, “Place mail in ballots here.”

Barb Byrum, a Democrat, said it’s a felony to take illegal possession of absentee ballots.

But there was no evidence of an intent to violate Michigan law, said the office of county prosecutor Carol Siemon, a Democrat.

“Instead, this seemed to be an effort to make a humorous political statement,” the statement said.

Byrum, who drives by the home on her way to work, said she didn’t see the toilet Tuesday. She said she respects the decision by the prosecutor but added that “elections are never a laughing matter.”

“The safety and secure administration of elections is of utmost importance,” Byrum said.

She has been critical of President Donald Trump, who has offered mixed messages on voting by mail. Election officials fear that Trump’s earlier claims about “mayhem” could cause anxiety among voters at a time when absentee ballots are being promoted to avoid coronavirus risks.

About 2.4 million Michigan voters so far have asked for absentee ballots.

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