2016 — October 11, 2016 at 7:59 pm

UPDATED: GOP Kalamazoo County Clerk running for reelection fails to get absentee ballots out in time in violation of federal law


NOTE: This post has been updated HERE based on the featured comment below by Washtenaw County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lawrence Kestenbaum. Based on what I learned from Clerk Kestenbaum, Kalamazoo Clerk Tim Snow is NOT the responsible party for the lateness of absentee ballots being mailed. This is a direct result of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s useless effort to stop straight ticket voting in our state. I apologize to Clerk Snow and regret the error.

Republican Tim Snow has been the Kalamazoo County Clerk for 20 years. In that period of time, you’d think he’d have a good grasp of state and federal law relating to the provision of absentee ballots. Federal law says they must be mailed no later than 45 days before the election (see my update below) which, this year, was a couple of weeks ago. Despite this, there are STILL voters in Kalamazoo County without absentee ballots today in clear violation of these laws. Snow’s failure to comply with the law is impacting upwards of 20,000 voters in Kalamazoo.

In a statement to WMMT, Snow blamed the Republican snafu over whether or not straight-ticket voting would still be legal in Michigan on the unreasonable delay, something that other County Clerks in the state don’t seem to have had a problem with. This appears to be more an issue of ineptitude and carelessness than something Snow can legitimately blame on anyone else.

Keep in mind, he’s running for reelection to hold onto his position.

Snow’s Democratic challenger is Kalamazoo County Commission Chair John Taylor and he’s not happy. “Enough is enough,” Taylor said in a statement. “Two weeks after the deadline to issue absentee ballots, Kalamazoo County voters just want Clerk Snow to wake up and let them vote. Tim Snow’s excuses seem to change based on the day and who is asking.

“It’s hard to say which is worse: either Clerk Snow is intentionally violating the law, or he’s simply fallen asleep at the wheel. So much depends on the integrity and efficiency of the voting process – Snow’s excuses and failures are undermining democracy for every voter in Kalamazoo County. It’s time for change in the clerk’s office.”

As I mentioned, as of today, there are still voters in Kalamazoo without ballots while in other counties, Clerks have already begun to receive ballots filled out and ready to be counted.

If you’d like to help elect someone willing to do his job as Kalamazoo Clerk, click HERE to make a financial contribution.

UPDATE: The 45-day rule pertains to anyone living overseas or who is in the military who has requested an absentee ballot. For everyone else, state law requires that you must request an absentee ballot and “A request for an absentee ballot must be processed immediately. It is recommended that the ballot be issued within 24 hours of the receipt of the application.” [Source] So, for people who have requested their absentee ballot prior to the 45-day mark or who are on the “permanent list” (people who receive an absentee ballot automatically for every election – senior citizens, disabled voters, etc.), their ballots should also go out at this time since the ballots are presumably ready due to the overriding federal law.

Photo by Amy Lynn Smith