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Bill to move canvassing to county passes state House

March 20, 2013 - As a way to save local communities money on administering elections, the Michigan House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-Oxford).

House Bill 4171 is part of a three-bill package that transfers the duties of local canvassing boards to the county level.

"What this does is (it) eliminates the municipality's obligation for doing that and turns it over to the county," Jacobsen said. "It's just eliminating the duplication of services."

Of the 62 communities in Oakland County, only three of them Southfield, Rochester Hills and Pontiac have and use their own local board of canvassers, according to county Clerk Lisa Brown. So, this would not affect either Addison or Oxford townships because they already use the county.

Addison Township Clerk Pauline Bennett said she uses the county because she believes "there should always be checks and balances in township government or any government."

"I feel that by the county canvassing Addison's elections, that's the check and balance. If there is an error, they would be more apt to find (it), then if we (canvassed) it here," she said. "Oakland County is really great as far as elections are concerned."

Bennett noted that she is proud of her own crew that works the township's elections.

"Addison Township election workers do a great job. They are a dedicated group, always willing to train and learn the forever-changing laws," she said. "Last November, for the large presidential election, Addison did not receive one call from the county Board of Canvassers."

Even though it doesn't affect Oxford, township Clerk Curtis Wright said he was on board with the bill.

"If it's something that streamlines the (election) process, I would definitely see the benefit of that for us (in) Oxford Township. It just eliminates an extra step that's going to be (taken) at the county level anyway," Wright said. "If it saves a couple of dollars at the initial level of the city or township, (it) definitely looks like a favorable thing."

Brown said she actually helped introduce the bill four years ago when Ruth Johnson was county clerk and it passed the House 104-0, but was never taken up in the Senate.They reintroduced it last year and brought Jacobsen in on it.

"We have been trying to get this done for a number of years," she said."So I am just hopeful this term the Senate will take it up and vote (on) it, so it ends up on the governor's desk."

"It's another one of those common sense things," Jacobsen said. "Back in the hinterlands, people thought it was a good idea to do both (local and county level canvassing), but particularly in these budget-restrained periods, it doesn't make sense."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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