Local clerks say they will ignore Michigan ballot citizenship question despite Secretary of State's order

Gov. Rick Snyder's veto, Secretary of State's order leaves local clerks to decide on ballot's U.S citizenship question

Author: Mara MacDonald, Local 4 Reporter, @MaraMacDonald
Published On: Sep 14 2012 10:52:30 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 14 2012 10:56:58 PM EDT
US citizenship proof
DEARBORN, Mich. -

Forget all the political drama between the candidates for a minute, there’s controversy over the ballot Michigan voters will get in November.

The first issue has already been decided but it’s still causing questions and confusion. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wants voters to check a box on their ballot application confirming they are a U.S. citizen. The problem with that is she has no legal right to do so.

Read more: Parties at odds over ballot citizenship question

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill requiring voters to do that citing confusion of the electorate and duplication of effort. When you register to vote you are already required to affirm you are a U.S. citizen.

Still, some voters may see the citizenship question on their ballot application. Local clerks say they won’t be devoting any time or energy to the issue since it isn’t legally enforceable.

"According to your high school civics, the Secretary of State does not override a governor’s veto, so I’m following the law," said Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh.

Local clerks say there are bigger issues to deal with. Because of all the ballot proposals the state has coming up in November the ballot itself has swelled to two pages in many communities.

The Wayne County Clerk’s Office says all of their precincts will have two-page ballots. There are four communities in Macomb County which also will have two-page ballots and Oakland County is currently working on minimizing its ballot so it can be one page.

What’s the big deal with a two page ballot? Well, for starters, it doubles the printing cost for local communities but it also means a longer count and more room for error with that count.

One local election official said on condition of anonymity the two-page ballot will be difficult on voters simply because they’re not used to it and it will make getting results in a timely manner on election night problematic.