East Lansing Election Officials Send Out Faulty Ballots; Correction Announced

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 12:45 pm
Chris Gray

Ingham Intermediate School District Superintendent Jason Mellema presenting to the East Lansing School Board Monday night. (Photo by Alice Dreger)

A group of East Lansing absentee voters living in Clinton County will be receiving new ballots after they were sent ones that erroneously left off a levy for special education services.

The issue involves voters in East Lansing’s Precinct 17, including the Hawk Nest neighborhood, on the northwest side of the City.

The 145 voters affected by the mistake will be offered new ballots and a chance to vote again if they’ve already submitted their ballots.

If they turn in or have turned in the errant ballots and do not re-submit new ones, their votes will still be counted, although they won’t have an opportunity to vote on the school levy.

If voters submit a second ballot, their first ballot will be not be counted and the second will. (The Clerk’s office can discern if two ballots come from the same person by coding on the envelopes. The ballots are dissociated from the envelopes and counted on Election Day, so that votes remain anonymous.)

The question accidentally left off the Precinct 17 ballot asks whether the Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD) should see a restoration of the Headlee reduction to increase its millage by 0.2438 mills. This would raise the total millage to the maximum 4.75 mills, as previously approved.

The ISD provides special public education to children with disabilities.

For a property with a market value of $125,000, passage of the ballot question would mean a cost of about $15 per year more in property taxes. The increase would be enacted for 20 years and would raise about $2.3 million a year.

Voters covered by the East Lansing and Lansing public school districts are affected by this Ingham ISD levy, even if they live in a county other than Ingham. That’s because the millage area includes the entire area serviced by Ingham ISD.

East Lansing has 1,395 voters living in Clinton County, but only 221 of those voters have remained in Bath Community School District. The remainder have been annexed into school districts based in Ingham County.

Election officials sent out 145 ballots by mistake that left of the special education levy.

“It was an oversight at multiple levels,” said East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster. “We realized that the Ingham ISD question should be on the ballot for Precinct 17 voters who are in the East Lansing and Lansing school districts.”

The mistake will be cleared up in time for voters who go in person to polls for the March 10 election, which includes the presidential primaries. Shuster said new ballots will arrive by Thursday.

Anne Hill, President of the Hawk Nest neighborhood in Precinct 17, tells ELi, "I am grateful the mistake was found and that new ballots will be issued. Not everyone in the district was aware of this ballot initiative being on the ballot. Every eligible voter's voice should be able to be heard and counted for all ballot initiatives and elected positions for their jurisdiction."


Alice Dreger contributed reporting.

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