The deadline for filing signatures to qualify for the Aug. 3 primary ballot expired at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. A couple of hours before that deadline, John Floyd was at the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office filing three additional “insurance” signatures to make sure he ended the day with the required minimum of 100.
Floyd had already qualified for the ballot with 101 signatures. But a filing the previous day by another Ward 5 candidate, Lou Glorie, had revealed a duplicate signature – and both signatures are disqualified under the city of Ann Arbor’s charter. That left Floyd with exactly 100 signatures – and he didn’t want to take any chances that two other candidates who’d taken out petitions might file with additional overlapping signatures.
Floyd’s concerns weren’t completely unfounded. Glorie’s filing on Monday had bumped Ward 5 incumbent Carsten Hohnke’s signature total from 100 down to 97 – three of Glorie’s signatures overlapped with Hohnke’s. And Hohnke had needed to submit additional signatures to qualify for the ballot – his additional 15 signatures brought his final total to 112.
Floyd’s signature count held steady through 4 p.m., making him the only Republican candidate in the Aug. 3 city council primary races. For the Democrats, Patricia Lesko and incumbent John Hieftje will contest the mayor’s race. In Wards 2 and 3, incumbents Tony Derezinski and Christopher Taylor, respectively, will be unopposed in the primary. The Ward 1 race will be contested by Sumangala Kailasapathy and incumbent Sandi Smith. The Ward 5 primary race is between Glorie and incumbent Hohnke.
Managing Overlapping Signatures
The 11 candidates who’ve submitted signatures to qualify on the ballot for the Aug. 3 primary submitted a total of 1,557 signatures. So how does the city clerk’s staff monitor those signatures for possible duplicates? They use the Qualified Voter File (QVF), which is more than its name suggests – it’s a piece of software for managing the list of qualified voters, which has built-in modules to aid election workers in various tasks, including the identification of duplicates.
On Tuesday afternoon, as The Chronicle watched John Floyd submit his “insurance” signatures, city clerk Jackie Beaudry was good-natured while being peppered with questions from The Chronicle and Floyd about some of the more arcane aspects of how the QVF supports the city clerk’s work. Does the QVF alert staff to duplicate signatures automatically by flagging them, or does someone have to run a report to check for that? Beaudry explained that the petition tracker module of the QVF automatically flags any duplicate signatures when they’re entered into the system.
State election law, Beaudry pointed out, provides that the first signature recorded is the one that counts in the event of duplicates, whereas the city’s charter stipulates that duplicate signatures are thrown out for both candidates. From previous Chronicle coverage:
Finally, for citizens who are asked by prospective candidates for office to sign their nominating petitions, signing does not represent an obligation to vote for that person come election day. But there is a kind of obligation attached – signing nominating petitions for different candidates for the same office results in the disqualification of both signatures:
13.9 (b) If any person signs a greater number of petitions for any office than there will be persons elected to that office, that person’s signature shall be disregarded on all petitions for that office.
Final Primary Picture
At the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline The Chronicle stopped back by the clerk’s office to confirm that there had been no additional activity in the couple of hours since our previous visit. Here’s a breakdown of the primary picture. From left to right, the columns with dates indicate when a candidate obtained petitions, when they were filed, and when the city clerk’s office verified the signatures.
Pulled Filed Ver # Filed Mayor D Patricia D. Lesko 2/02 3/29 3/29 285 D John Hieftje 3/17 5/07 5/07 288 I Steve Bean 3/16 July 15 deadline I William Keith Bostic Jr. 5/10 July 15 deadline Ward 1 City Council D Sandi Smith 1/13 5/05 5/06 107 D Sumangala Kailasapathy 3/08 4/12 4/12 105 Ward 2 City Council D Tony Derezinski 1/19 4/30 4/30 106 Ward 3 City Council D Christopher Taylor 12/17 3/19 3/19 118 D Bradley Mikus 4/30 (did not submit) Ward 4 City Council D Margie Teall 1/11 5/06 5/06 111 D John Eaton 3/23 5/10 5/10 110 D Jeremy Kennedy 4/02 (did not submit) Ward 5 City Council D Catherine Glorie 3/04 5/10 5/11 112 D Carsten Hohnke 2/23 4/27 4/27 112 R John Floyd 3/31 5/05 5/06 103 D Allen Licari 2/19 (did not submit) D Newcombe Clark 4/09 (did not submit) I Allen Licari 2/19 July 15 deadline I Newcombe Clark 4/09 July 15 deadline
All of the dates are from the year 2010, with the exception of Christopher Taylor’s Dec. 17, 2009 pulling of petitions. Taylor was also the quickest to file his petitions.
Independent candidates for the Nov. 3, 2010 general election have until July 15 to file their petitions. Two Ward 5 candidates, Newcombe Clark and Allen Licari, had obtained petitions for the Democratic primary as well with no party affiliation. Neither filed petitions for the primary, but they still have until July 15 to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot as independent candidates. The same is true for two independent candidates for mayor, Steve Bean and William Bostic, Jr.
Qualified Voter File: So Much More Than a File
The petition tracking module of the Qualified Voter File (QVF) is one way that city council candidates interact with the QVF. That’s really an indirect interaction mitigated by city clerk staff. Somewhat more direct is the the opportunity for candidates – or any citizen – to request information in the QVF to aid in targeting mailings or doors to knock.
For example, if a candidate wants to send a mailing just to those people who voted in the last election, they can request an Excel spreadsheet of just those names and addresses from the clerk’s office. Other than the $5 cost for a disk, there’s no charge.
Beaudry demonstrated the QVF by looking up this reporter’s information: first registered to vote in this jurisdiction in 1996; first participated in an election in 2006.
There’s a checkbox on each record – if checked, it means there’s a standing request to have an absent voter application mailed to a voter. Beaudry noted that the city of Ann Arbor historically has only mailed absent voter applications to those who request them. Other cities, she said, had a practice of mailing absent voter applications to all registered voters over age 60 – that’s one of the reasons that can justify voting absentee in Michigan.
A 2007 Court of Appeals case, Taylor v Currie, caused several cities to change their practice of automatically sending absent voter applications to those over 60, or else enact legislation specifically to allow the clerk to do so. The legal case centered around the ability of a clerk to send out applications, if they were not explicitly requested. Election law does not explicitly give a clerk the ability to send unsolicited applications and ruled that clerks could not do so.
Absent voter ballots require “application” because Michigan does not currently allow for absentee voting for no reason. An exhaustive list of justifiable reasons:
- age 60 years old or older
- unable to vote without assistance at the polls
- expecting to be out of town on election day
- in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
- unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
- appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
In addition to requests for names and addresses of those voters who’ve voted absentee in the past, or who have a standing request for absentee ballots, the city also provides an email service that reflects absentee ballot activity during the election season – people who’ve requested an absentee ballot and people who have turned in their absentee ballot. To be added to the list, it’s as simple as telling the city clerk you’d like to be added to the “daily AV list.”
Why would candidates care about absent voters?
Someone who’s requested an absentee ballot is highly likely to vote, so from that point of view, candidates typically see them as a good time investment. However, absent voters can display as a group different tendencies from voters who go to the polls. In the fall of 2009, on the school millage question, Ann Arbor voters who voted at the polls supported the millage by a 9,616 to 6,876 margin, but the absent voters were against it in every Ann Arbor ward.
YES NO City of Ann Arbor, AVCB 1 113 119 City of Ann Arbor, AVCB 2 314 357 City of Ann Arbor, AVCB 3 150 239 City of Ann Arbor, AVCB 4 196 345 City of Ann Arbor, AVCB 5 215 313
Beaudry pointed out that the QVF – in addition to its uses by candidates to target their efforts – is also used for what its name suggests: to print out the poll lists for election day.
Last Day to Register to Vote
The last day to register to vote for the Aug. 3, 2010 primary is July 6, 2010. Voter registration in Ann Arbor can be completed, among other places, on the 2nd floor of city hall, or by mail to 100 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor 48104. For more information, call the city clerk at 734.794.6140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org