Election is over when this fourmember board says it is so
Well, in the case of elections, it’s not over until certified by the county Board of Canvassers.
Created by the state Constitution of 1850, the county Board of Canvassers is the local version of a similar group that certifies election results statewide. It is comprised of four members, appointed by the County Board of Commissioners as nominated by the local Democratic and Republican parties.
“We make sure all the ‘I’s are dotted and the ‘T’s crossed,” said Bob Marshall of Lake Leelanau, a 10-year member who with Donna Dodd, represents the Democratic Party on the Canvassing board.
The Republicans are represented by Eric Lind of Suttons Bay and George Anderson of Northport.
Members are appointed to two-year terms in every odd year.
“Each party provides the names of three interested people,” county Clerk Michelle Crocker said.
A letter signed by each nominee including their intent to “discharge the duties” of the board to the best of their ability; information on prior election experience, including canvassing elections; and information on whether they’ve been convicted of a felony or election crime.
Like the chairmanship, which rotates among board members, so do the terms so that at no time will the seats of two members of the same party expire at the same time.
For example: Marshall and Dodd’s terms expire in 2015 and 2013, respectively. Anderson’s term is also up in 2013 and Lind’s in 2015.
State law dictates that the Board of Canvassers meet at 1 p.m. the day following the election and complete their review.
On election night, once the polls close, all ballots are tabulated at the precinct level. The results are called into the county Clerk’s office and the township clerk or his/her designee delivers the paper tabulation along with the ballots in a sealed envelope and poll book totals.
They compare the tallies with the poll books; confirm that the seal has not been broken on the (ballot) envelope and verify that all required signatures are provided.
“We’re the extra check and balance that makes sure ‘this is what happened,’” Dodd said. “If there’s an error at the precinct level, we’ve had workers come in and go through what happened.”
Dodd said despite the divergent political views on the board, members get along well.
The county Clerk confirmed this observation.
“Rarely does political talk enter the conversation,” Crocker said.
Although state law gives the canvassers two weeks to complete their review before forwarding them to the State Board of Canvassers, which verifi es multi-jurisdictional races, the local group is usually done within a couple days after the election.
The canvassers receive a per diem of $70 for a full day of work; $40 for a half-day, plus mileage.
“We take it very seriously and get along great,” Dodd said. “We don’t talk politics.”