The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) of Michigan announced last Friday that they are requesting for the Department of Justice to “immediately open an investigation into the actions of the City of Dearborn Heights Clerk Office handling of absentee ballots, voter registration, and treatment of Arab American voters.” The request was issued after ADC was approached by Arab Americans in Dearborn Heights, Michigan who detailed several alleged incidents of voter suppression and intimidation by the City of Dearborn Heights Clerk’s Office, according to the announcement on ADC Michigan’s Facebook page.

The ADC claims that ctions of the City of Dearborn Heights which violate Arab American residents’ fundamental right to vote and the City of Dearborn Heights, namely Clerk Walter J. Prusiewicz, deliberately prevented Arab American residents from voting for the upcoming elections, specifically the 5th Senate District and 11th House District election, which includes an Arab American candidate.

ADC-Michigan Director Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh said, “The fact that voter intimidation and voter bias exists 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed is shocking,” she continued, “Voting is a cornerstone of democracy and Arab-Americans will not stand by and allow this fundamental right to be violated by any city government anywhere.”

The complaint alleges that “The City of Dearborn Heights, namely Clerk Walter J. Prusiewicz, deliberately prevented Arab American residents from voting for the upcoming elections, specifically the 5th Senate District and 11th House District election, which includes an Arab American candidate. ADC strongly believes that the actions by the City of Dearborn Heights, and their placement of restrictions on Arab American absentee ballots was discriminatorily motivated.”

The allegations involve the act of invalidating or preventing Arab American voters from early absentee-ballot voting. Several Dearborn Heights residents were told they would be “mailed” absentee ballot applications despite the fact that the residents informed city officials that “mailed” applications would be useless while they were overseas,” Fatina Abdrabboh, an attorney and director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Michigan Office (ADC-Michigan), said in a news release.

The civil rights group has demanded that Dearborn Heights election officials explain their actions, including “why many Arab-Americans were deprived of their right to vote via absentee ballots and why many other applications had not been processed,” Abdrabboh said.

When the allegations of misconduct initially surfaced, Pruseiwicz initially resigned from his duties. However, he later rescinded his resignation, commenting that he would “see it through” the August primaries and help clear his — “And Dearborn Heights'” good name.

Like many Republicans accused of voter fraud in one way or another, Pruseiwicz offered up an explanation for the VRA charges in a letter announcing his rescinded resignation, according to the Dearborn Press and Guide:

“He also said in the letter that two batches of several hundred absentee ballot applications were dropped off at the clerk’s office while he was not at the front office to receive them. They were not signed by the person who dropped them off and he reported it to the state, he said, and was told to hold off on issuing the ballots. He said he was then told to issue the ballots since the office did accept them unsigned but to not accept any more unsigned absentee ballot applications in the future. He said a man came into the clerk’s office July 21 yelling that he heard he was suppressing the Arab vote and accused him of wanting a Polish candidate to win and of not issuing ballots to Arab Americans.

ADC is not buying it, and says that if their concerns are not sufficiently addressed, the organization is prepared “to pursue all necessary legal action to uphold the Voting Rights Act.”

ADC-Michigan Director Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh said, “The fact that voter intimidation and voter bias exists 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed is shocking,” she continued, “Voting is a cornerstone of democracy and Arab-Americans will not stand by and allow this fundamental right to be violated by any city government anywhere.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is the nation’s largest Arab-American civil rights and social advocacy organization with a mission “to protect the civil rights of Arab-Americans and promote their rich cultural heritage.” Their Michigan location is their largest and most active presence outside of their Washington, D.C. headquarters.