FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT
January 11, 2005 Carmella Sabaugh 586-469-7939
Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh asked local clerks to run school elections in an effort to increase voter turn out and make school elections less confusing. School elections often fail to generate double-digit turnout. She announced her plan to local clerks in response to a new law requiring consolidated elections.
“Voters should be able to go to the same polling place, whether they are voting for president, governor, mayor or school board,” said Sabaugh. “Government should encourage voting and having the same polling place for school elections as other elections will reduce confusion.”
State law became effective this month that requires school board elections to be held in May or November. Most other elections would be restricted to one of four dates in February, May, August or November. Most Macomb County school districts will hold their elections annually in May. (East Detroit Public Schools school board elections will continue to be held in November in odd years in conjunction with the Eastpointe and Warren city elections.)
The law also takes schools out of the election-running business and requires school elections to be run by city and township clerks. Under Sabaugh’s plan, each city and township clerk would run their own school elections, using the same voter precincts and polling locations normally used. The entire cost would be paid by the school districts as required by law.
Over the past few months Sabaugh worked with local clerks and school officials to develop a school election plan to implement this new law. She recently held meetings in her office with every local clerk and asked each to run the school elections in his or her community. She explained that each community would be reimbursed the same way they are reimbursed for presidential primary elections.
Sabaugh stated there are several good reasons to have local clerks run school elections:
§ Voters would go to the same polling places they use for other elections, reducing confusion.
§ The same election inspectors will work school elections and other elections, making it easier for voters to get consistent answers to any questions that may arise.
§ When local communities run school elections, it keeps the elections process under local control. “I believe that local control is important in elections and is one reason Macomb County and the State of Michigan have such a good reputation regarding elections,” said Sabaugh.
§ Local clerks already have an established process for running local elections, maintaining voting equipment, and processing absent voter applications and ballots.
§ The costs of any school elections in each community would be paid for by the school districts, not by the municipalities.
“I believe the public will be best served by having local clerks run school elections in the same manner as other elections and the cooperation of all cities and townships in Macomb County is essential for the successful implementation of this law,” said Sabaugh. Michigan counties, unlike counties in most states, do not actually maintain voting equipment, polling locations, election inspector lists, or issue and process absent voter ballots.
One of the most recent improvements Sabaugh made to the election process was posting campaign finance statements of school board candidates and other county and local officials on the Internet. You may view them free of charge at http://www.macombcountymi.gov/clerksoffice. Sabaugh said this improved compliance with campaign finance laws and helped inform voters.