Write-in campaign is legal, but will cost the tax payers

August 13, 2012

Sheriff Jeff Fiers can conduct a write-in campaign and it is not illegal under the Michigan Sore Losers law.

“The bottom line here is that there would be no party designation as his name will not appear on the ballot,” County Clerk Jim Riffle told Mason County Press. “The Canvass Board will make all determinations related to the validity of write-in votes following the November election. Election workers record the variations of declared write-in candidates names and the canvass board then makes a determination.”

We also consulted with an attorney.

“The so-called ‘sore losers law’ is codified at MCL 168.695, which currently provides that ‘[n]o person whose name was printed or placed on the primary ballots or voting machines as a candidate for nomination on the primary ballots of 1 political party shall be eligible as a candidate of any other political party at the election following that primary,'” the attorney stated.

“My conclusion is that Mr. Fiers will be eligible to run as a Republican write-in candidate for the office of Mason County Sheriff at the November General Election, and that he will be eligible to hold that office if he receives more votes than Kim Cole does (obviously Jeff’s votes would be write-in votes but Kim’s would be regular votes),” the attorney stated. “This scenario strikes me as exceedingly unlikely, but it appears that it would be entirely lawful if it were to occur.”

Ironically Fiers major campaign stance has been his ability to work within his budget and save the tax payer’s money. A write-in campaign will cost the tax payers.

“The majority of expense would be at the township level for the time it takes for the inspectors to count and record the votes at the end of the night,” Riffle said.  “There would be some additional time involved for the canvass board as well.”

All of that effort from election workers will most likely be futile.

“The odds are definitely against any write-in candidate for any election and the odds get worse when you have a candidate who was unsuccessful at the proceeding election,” Riffle said.  “The task is even greater as the size of the area and amount of voters increases. I do not know of anyone who has ever been successful. I had a county commissioner candidate try this as a write-in and while he received more votes overall in November his percentage of the vote total went from 43.6 percent to 22.2 percent.”

Fiers was defeated by Cole in last Tuesday’s primary election. Cole won by 53 percent of the Republican votes.

Story by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

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