“Michigan board vote may mandate future state takeover of Detroit elections”

Detroit Free Press:

A Michigan board generally tasked with verifying election results wants Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to have broad authority over election operations in Detroit this fall unless the city meets certain requirements. 

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers did not define what specifics steps Detroit would need to take to prevent a takeover, or outline what exact powers would fall to Benson if Detroit failed to act. 

The board passed a measure Monday that certified the August primary results. But the measure also theoretically mandates Detroit election officials make unspecified changes if they want to avoid a state takeover…

he secretary of state already has supervisory control over elections, according to state law. The board intentionally did not elaborate in the measure on what actions they wanted to see from Benson’s office. 

“I don’t think we’re in a position to add the detail right now. We’re hoping that Jonathan Brater (the director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections) comes through with a list of requirements that have to be made if Detroit’s going to run their own election. Otherwise, the secretary of state walks in and runs it,” said Norm Shinkle, a Republican member of the board. 

Minutes before the measure passed, Brater told board members the state could not make this work. 

“We will do whatever is necessary to enforce the election law…it’s not clear what specific element of enforcement of supervisory control the board is requesting here in order to supervise the election,” Brater said. 

“Logistically, practically, it’s not possible for the Bureau of Elections to run Detroit’s elections.” 

The board’s vote is also on uncertain legal grounds. Heather Meingast, an attorney with the office of the Michigan Attorney General, expressed skepticism when discussing the board’s authority to certify election results contingent on an action being taken by Benson’s office.


Share this: