Niles Charter Township pursues early voting agreement with Berrien County

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP — The Niles Charter Township Board of Trustees is gearing up for the changes being instituted as the result of election law changes last year. 

During its meeting Monday at the Niles Charter Township HHall, the board unanimously adopted a resolution to approve the township clerk to have the authority to pursue an early voting agreement with Berrien County.

Proposal 2, which passed as part of the 2022 General Election, gives Michigan voters the right to vote early in every statewide and federal election. People will still have the opportunity to vote in person or vote absentee, but will now be able to vote early before a state or federal election. In those elections, early voting must be offered for at least nine consecutive days, beginning on the second Saturday before the election and ending on the Sunday before the election, for at least eight hours a day. The first election at which early voting will be constitutionally required will be the 2024 presidential primary election. 

“It’s complex,” said Township Clerk Terry Eull. “There’s a lot of moving parts you have to be careful about.”

In an effort to reimburse counties and municipalities for the costs associated with early voting, the State of Michigan, the council’s approval will allow the county to apply for funding from the Michigan Department of State and the Michigan Bureau of Elections to pay for items such as new equipment and additional staffing. At last week’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler estimated that instituting early voting will cost the county nearly $238,000.  

The quick action by the council to approve the agreement with the county occurred because the grant application deadline is Sept. 8 and the county board did not meet this week.

In other business, the board accepted a $2,225 bid from Double A Power Washing, of Mishawaka, to clean the Beeson Mausoleum, located at 1503 Bond St. 

The project will be paid for using a trust fund tied to the mausoleum. According to Eull, the fund has just $5,000 left. When the fund is depleted, the township will pay for upkeep.

The board also authorized the assumption of jurisdiction and control of the drains one and two from the Drain Commissioner to the Township. Drains one and two are the only drains owned by the township. According to Treasurer Jim Ringler, the motion was the first step toward the township fully relinquishing the drains to the drain commission.

“The first step is for them to relinquish it back [to the township],” he said. “Once that happens, the drain commissioner can accept them under a different chapter.”

“Any expenses would then be spread throughout the drain district,” added Supervisor Marge Durm-Hiatt.

Once the process is complete, Ringler said the township will pay 20 percent of the drain cost.