Election Board: Snyder Recall Wording OK

At a clarity hearing held on April 29, 2011, the Washtenaw County board of election commissioners found that the proposed ballot language in a petition asking for the recall of Gov. Rick Snyder was sufficiently clear.

The board of election commissioners consists of (chair) Donald E. Shelton, chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court; (secretary) Larry Kestenbaum, county clerk; and (member) Catherine McClary, county treasurer.

The vote on the clarity of the language was 2-1. McClary’s was the dissenting vote.

The language that the board found to be sufficiently clear was as follows: “Richard D. Snyder has requested from the legislature, approved and signed various laws that take authority and funds from local governments and school districts and vest them with the state. He has obtained for himself, through his appointed Emergency Financial Managers, the power to invalidate legal and binding contracts entered into by properly elected local authorities. He has sought tax increases upon retirees and lower income families, but instead of addressing the deficit, he has sought large new tax cuts for corporations and businesses.” [.pdf of proposed recall ballot language]

Under Michigan’s state election law, the finding at a clarity hearing can be appealed to the Circuit Court within 10 days of the finding by the petitioner or the officer. New recall ballot language can also be submitted.

The petition language was submitted on April 18, 2011 by Gerald D. Rozner from the city of Monroe. The effort is being organized by a group called Michigan Citizens United. By state election law, the board had a window between 10 and 20 days after the petition during which to complete the clarity hearing. If no hearing had been held, the default finding is that the language is sufficiently clear.

If there is no appeal or if the petition language survives any appeal, the recall effort would need to collect signatures equal to 25% of the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the general election – about 800,000 signatures would be required. By law, the petition itself can’t be submitted until six months after the recall subject takes office – that means the recall petition could be filed no earlier than July 1, 2011.

The brief was filed from the Washtenaw County board of commissioners boardroom, 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, where the clarity hearing was conducted. A more detailed report will follow: [link]