Secretary of State
On June 11, 2013 Governor Snyder signed House Bill 4171 into law. HB 4171 (now Public Act 51 of 2013) is part of a three-bill package that is primarily designed to eliminate local canvassing boards. The other two bills are HB 4169, which amends the General Law Village Act; and HB 4170, which amends the Community College Act. These bills were supported by the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the Michigan Association of County Clerks.
The Acts have immediate effect - meaning that County Boards of Canvassers are now responsible for canvassing all elections, starting with the August 6, 2013 election.
Key points are summarized below. All page and line numbers listed below refer to the House-concurred version of HB 4171. This version of the bill clearly shows marked changes and is available electronically at legislature.mi.gov (A direct link is here: HB 4171).
Several sections of Michigan Election Law were changed to eliminate references to local boards of canvassers and assign all canvassing duties to the County Board of Canvassers. A detailed list of the changes and specific topics covered by each includes:
The following language was added to allow the Board of County Canvassers to utilize County Clerk staff in lieu of summoning election inspectors during the canvass:
"In the alternative to summoning the election inspectors before them, the board of county canvassers may designate staff members from the county clerk's office to count any ballots that the election inspectors failed to count, to make correct returns in case, in the judgment of the board of county canvassers after examining the returns, poll lists, or tally sheets, the returns already made are incorrect or incomplete, and the board of county canvassers shall canvass the votes from the corrected returns." MCL 168.823(3); p. 18, lines 9 through 17.
Last year, September village elections were eliminated through the passage of PA 523 of 2012. Along with these changes, all references allowing townships to recoup proportionate election costs from villages were also eliminated from Michigan Election Law. This language, re-inserted into election law via HB 4171, is modified to apply only to special elections, not the regular village election in even-year November elections:
"If a village's special election is held in conjunction with another election conducted by a township, the village shall pay the township a proportionate share of the election expenses. If a village's special election is not held in conjunction with another election conducted by a township, the village shall pay the township 100% of the actual costs of conducting the village's special election." MCL 168.642(6); p. 11, line 24 through p. 12, line 3.
The only change from the prior language is the elimination of prior references to "regular" village elections.
Other provisions related to the cost of canvassing remain unchanged. (MCL 168.24a(5)):
"The cost of canvass of school, metropolitan district, city, township, and village elections shall be borne by the school district, metropolitan district, city, township, or village holding the election, and upon presentation of a bill for the costs incurred by the board of county canvassers, the school district, metropolitan district, city, township, or village shall reimburse the county treasurer."
County clerks with scheduled August elections are encouraged to begin making preparations now for handling all canvassing duties previously assigned to local canvassing boards. Contact your County Canvassing Board members as soon as possible to alert them to this change and to ensure availability of a quorum following the August 6 election. Also remember that County Canvassing Boards have the authority to employ assistants as necessary to adequately perform the duties of the Board (MCL 168.24e).
City and township clerks that previously utilized local canvassing boards are also encouraged to contact their local canvassing board members now to notify them of this change.
Questions? Please contact the Bureau of Elections at 1-800-292-5973 or 517-373-2540.