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State Senate panel votes to give Flint mayoral candidates another chance

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are a step closer to giving Flint mayoral candidates another shot at getting on the primary ballot.

A state Senate panel unanimously approved a one-time legislative fix on Thursday.

Flint’s city clerk gave candidates the wrong deadline to turn in nominating signatures. As a result, no candidate turned in enough valid signatures on time, including the city’s incumbent mayor.

Supporters of Senate Bill 329 say voters should be able to vet candidates in a primary.

“I believe this legislation ensures their enfranchisement,” said Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, who chairs the Senate Elections and Government Reform Committee.

“And that was my goal and objective all along.”

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, voted in favor of the bill – but he says he did it reluctantly.

“Frankly, if (candidates) hadn’t waited until the last moment to file, somebody would have actually had an advantage,” said Shirkey. “And, so, maybe there’s a lesson there as well.”

Without the legislation, there would be no August mayoral primary in Flint and the November election would be all write-in. Elections officials say that would mean higher costs for taxpayers.

“We would be looking at training of maybe 248 precinct inspectors on how to properly handle write-ins,” said state Elections Director Chris Thomas. “Then there’s this obvious education to the voters on how to properly make a write-in vote.”

The bill now goes to the full state Senate.

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