Sault Ste. Marie Leaders Testify In Lansing, Work To Resolve Ballot Issue

City leaders in Sault Ste. Marie are holding out hope that lawmakers in Lansing can help fix their ballot issue in time for November’s election.

As it stands Sault Ste. Marie city office candidates are forced to run as write-ins.

A ruling from the state said candidates in the Soo filed their nominating petitions three weeks too late. The city says they were following deadlines in their own charter and are now working with state lawmakers to remedy the issue.

“The city received an order in July from the Bureau of Elections indicating that those candidates that did not file in accordance with state law would need to run as write-in’s this fall,” Sault Ste. Marie City Manager Oliver Turner, said.

City manager Oliver Turner has been working to fix the filing deadline flub. He testified in front of representatives in Lansing on Wednesday.

“Our testimony really focused on how the situation arose and the mechanisms that we’ve put into place to ensure that this did not happen again in Sault Ste. Marie,” Turner, added.

The testimony worked, House Bill 4892 passed by a large margin. If signed into law, the bill would get candidates in the Soo back on the ballot.

“That would allow those candidates that did file in good faith and in accordance with the city charter provisions to have their names place on the ballot for this fall’s election,” Turner, explained.

Sault Ste. Marie isn’t the only city in Michigan with this problem, they were joined in Lansing by officials from Tecumseh. With the Michigan Municipal League they brought the issue to legislators.

“With Rep. Chatfield and Sen. Schmidt, we were able to come around and immediately after that work with those legislators how we could put a solution together, what that solution might look like,” Michigan Municipal League State Affairs Director Chris Hackbarth, said.

That solution was crafted around the city of Flint, who had a similar ballot issue fixed by the state in 2015.

“In 2015 there wasn’t an understanding of how much broader the potential issue could be with other communities and now as an organization we’re taking a very close look at it,” Hackbarth, said.

The bill is now off to the senate for consideration.