Oct 25, 2010

Land’s action in the 20th District is the reason the SOS should take nonpartisan pledge already taken by Benson

The situation in the 20th Senate District following the tragic death of Democratic candidate Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, is why Michigan needs a Secretary of State like law professor Jocelyn Benson, who has taken an oath to the citizens to operate the office in a neutral and nonpartisan fashion.
Jones lost a battle with cancer on Oct. 17 after many people had already cast absentee ballots, and under state law a vote cannot be counted for a deceased candidate. Votes will be counted for the Republican candidate, but votes for Jones will not be counted as going to the replacement for Jones, Bobby Hopewell. Jones appeared to be winning a seat that is currently held by a Republican.

Not only that, it appears that an absentee ballot cast by a voter who votes straight Democratic Party will just be thrown out, and it will not be counted for the other candidates on the ballot as well as for Jones.

An estimated 8,000 of the 16,000 absentee ballots issued in the race before Jones’ death last Sunday have been returned to date, and absentee voters, whether they turned in their ballots or not, may request a replacement ballot.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, “some clerks, including in Comstock and Oshtemo townships, wanted to send a notice to voters who received an absentee ballot of this option,” but super-partisan Republican Secretary of State Terri Land has refused to allow local clerks to send such a letter as a public service to make sure their voters are counted.

There is nothing in Michigan election law to bar local clerks from undertaking such a public service to make sure voters have their vote count, but Land, who has a long history of partisanship, is barring them from doing it.

Land played politics with the closing of branch offices in Democratic districts in 2007, throwing up a roadblock to putting Lance Enderle on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for the 8th Congressional District and Land has gone after Democrats who allegedly violate campaign finance laws but ignores Republican violators.
To fulfill the oath that Benson took and the Republican candidate refuses to take, Benson will not co-chair any campaigns or endorse any candidates running in elections where she will serve as the final certifier of results.

Too bad Land didn’t take such as oath.

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