Cass clerks gather to discuss Michigan’s election law changes

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC -- Dowagiac City Clerk James Snow hosted Cass County clerks Wednesday for an overview of changes coming to Michigan's election process.
Federal legislation passed in response to the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida is filtering down to state and local levels. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced a statewide uniform voting system, the optical scan voting system.
As part of the conversion process, each county will be required to select a single qualified vendor for its optical scan voting equipment and software that provides vote accumulation, ballot layout and election programming functions. All cities and townships will be required to use optical scan equipment to conduct 2006 balloting.
Another change is "consolidated elections," a nine-bill package Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law Jan. 8.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, the new laws will affect a wide variety of broad and sweeping changes in Michigan's new election systems.
Elections are restricted to four dates each year -- the fourth Tuesday in February and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, August and November.
Fixed election dates eliminate county election scheduling committees.
Michigan counties will administer all school elections, intermediate school district elections and community college district elections.
Township clerks will administer all village elections.
There is a window, Sept. 1-Dec. 31, 2004, for a village to select the odd-year September election date, but if it does not pass a resolution to that effect by the end of this year, villages have no further options for change. The even-year November date will be imposed.

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