Most local clerks opt to do their jobs
Two local clerks are refusing to run school elections, which is fewer than two years ago when five clerks opted out, according to the Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds.
A 2005 state law change requires elections officials to run school elections instead of school officials. To accommodate towns without full-time clerks, the law lets some local clerks opt out of running school elections. But two Macomb County full time elected clerks with full-time staff are taking advantage of the loophole to opt out of running their school elections. If a local clerk opts out, the duties fall to the county clerk. County clerks normally do not handle local election activities or hire poll workers.
School districts reimburse the entire extra cost of school elections no matter who runs them.
“Local clerks should run local elections, unless they campaigned on a promise of not running elections,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “If you don’t want to run elections, then don’t run for clerk.”
Of Macomb County’s 24 local clerks, only the Macomb Township and Harrison Township clerks are using the loophole to opt out of running school elections. For the next two years, the Macomb County Clerk will run school elections for voters in those townships in the following school districts: Chippewa Valley Schools, L'Anse Creuse Public Schools, Mount Clemens Community Schools, New Haven Community Schools, and Utica Community Schools.
In 2007, five clerks opted out of running their school elections. The Macomb County Clerk made the rounds to township board meetings at that time criticizing both Democratic and Republican local clerks who she said were shirking their duties. The Macomb County Clerk ended up running elections in five communities for Chippewa Valley Schools, Fraser Public Schools, L'Anse Creuse Public Schools, Mount Clemens Community Schools, New Haven Community Schools, Romeo Community Schools and Utica Community Schools. In a turnabout this year, the Shelby Township clerk decided to resume running school elections and newly elected clerks in Clinton Township and Chesterfield Township have also agreed to do so.
The Macomb County Clerk made improvements when she ran school elections by reducing costs and increasing turnout. For example, the cost of the Utica Community Schools election in Shelby Township was $29,872 when the Macomb County Clerk ran the election in May 2007, but the cost was $30,103 when the Shelby Township clerk ran the 2006 election. Turnout was higher when the Macomb County Clerk ran the election, 7% versus 6%. She also provided online absent ballot tracking to prevent fraud.
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