Public Library Trustee Election Amendments

During 2002, the Michigan Legislature amended two of the basic statutes governing the election of public library trustees. Both Public Act 164 of 1877, which governs city, village and township libraries, and Public Act 24 of 1989, governing district libraries, were amended to provide additional options for those who wish to run for open library trustee positions. Since the vast majority of Michigan public libraries were established under one of these two laws, it is important to note these changes and inform current and future library trustees of their new options.

Both amendments give nonpartisan candidates running for trustee positions the opportunity to get their names placed on the ballot by securing a specific number of voter signatures. The amendments enable potential candidates for city, village or township library boards to get their names on the ballot by obtaining between six and 20 voter signatures in a municipality with a population of less than 10,000. [See, e.g., MCL 397.211(d)(i).] In addition, candidates for the library board in municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more may get on the ballot by securing endorsements from at least 40 but no more than 400 voters. [See, e.g., MCL 397.211(d)(ii).]

District library board candidates are subject to identical restrictions. Those who wish to run for the board must obtain petitions with at least six but no more than 20 voter signatures in a library district with a population of 10,000 or less. [See, e.g., MCL 397.181(e)(i).] Alternatively, candidates for the district library board in districts with populations of 10,000 or more must obtain at least 40 but no more than 400 voter names to be placed on the ballot. [See, e.g., MCL 397.181(e)(ii).]

Also of note is that in lieu of these petition requirements, the above-mentioned candidates may instead choose to file a $100 nonrefundable fee with the clerk conducting the election in order to have his or her name placed on the ballot. [See, e.g., MCL 397.181(f); MCL 397.211(e).]

The two amendments are intended to make the process of placing a candidate's name on the ballot easier and less confusing than under the old law. The changes took effect on January 1, 2003.

By Dragomir Cosanici,
Library Law Specialist

February 2003

Updated 01/08/2010