Local Board of Canvassers eliminated

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – The city council had no choice when it came to dissolving the city’s Board of Canvassers Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill in June that took the responsibility of certifying city elections away from the local boards of canvassers and translated it to county boards of canvassers. For Allen Park, Wyandotte, Riverview and Melvindale, this meant Wayne County became responsible for certifying election results and their four-member boards had to be disbanded.

The council had to make a resolution that dissolved the board and submit it to the state. The law includes any special or general elections a city holds and the cities are responsible to pay the county for the certification process. Melvindale City Clerk Diana Zarazua said the city does not pay for an election it does not participate in and residents should know this should not affect them until 2015, when they vote for their mayor and city council.

“Right now, we do not know what, if any, increase this change will cost the city.” she said. “The city has to wait until an election is held to find out those costs. I don’t want residents to think we have an immediate financial responsibility to Wayne County.”

Wyandotte, Allen Park, and Riverview had elections this year, but Riverview and Allen Park were the only communities to hold elections after the law passed. Riverview held an election in November, while Allen Park held a special election in August for a police and fire millage. Wyandotte held its election for vacant council seats May 7.

Allen Park and Riverview were able to count their results and provide residents with unofficial results, but they could not swear-in members until the elections were certified.

Allen Park City Clerk Michael Mizzi said the city used to pay its canvassers $160 total for election certification, but its special election cost $564.60 to certify the results.

“This reorganization has its set of benefits and setbacks,” Mizzi said. “Yes, it does cost the city more money, but you get individuals with a lot more experience. The county canvassers certify more election results a lot more often than city canvassers would.”

The problem with the change became how the county would assess the cost of an election, Mizzi said, because it was not outlined in the legislation. The county wanted to charge cities equally for any elections occurring at the same time, he said, which is when the clerks from smaller communities stepped in to consider other options.

“Basically, those clerks said it wouldn’t be fair to share the cost of certifying election results with a large city like Detroit because of the large number of precincts they have compared to a city like ours,” Mizzi said. “Say there were seven communities voting during a specific election and the cost to certify all those votes was $70,000, it wouldn’t be fair for Allen Park, with 10 precincts, to pay the same $10,000 that Detroit would.”

The county accepted a proposition to calculate the total cost of all elections and charge a city based on the amount of precincts reporting during that election, which Mizzi said was “the only fair thing to do at the end of the day.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)