Calumet Village presses on into unchartered territory

CALUMET — The Village Office recently sent resident Peggy Germain a letter regarding a ballot petition she filed with the village clerk in August 2021, that was subsequently misplaced. The petition, said Germain, was an eight-page document on legal-size paper that also included the signatures of 56 registered voters, more than the number required to have the petition placed on the May 3 ballot. Germain had photocopied the document before handing it into the village clerk.

Last week, Germain received a letter, dated Jan. 21 from the Village Manager Amber Goodman informing Germain that the opportunity remained open to her to have the petition placed on the May ballot, as the village council would accept the copy as the original, if she would bring her copy to the Village Hall to have copied.

“When the village has made a copy of your copy of the petitioner petitions,” the letter states, “this copy will be forthwith delivered by the Village of Calumet to the Calumet Township Clerk for canvassing.”

The letter concludes by saying:

“If you do not provide your copy of the aforementioned petitions to the village office for copying so that the process of canvassing the petitions by the township clerk can be completed before 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 25, 2022, Ordinance 157 will become permanently effective after that time without further action and until the Ordinance is amended or repealed.”

The letter is signed by Amber Goodman, village manager.

Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly said that when she presented the issue of the missing petition and an existing copy of it to the Michigan Bureau of Elections for their determination, she was told that as a filing official, the BOE has never accepted a copy for filing, but that office was not aware of a time when a petition was lost or misplaced. Kelly said she was advised that the matter should be discussed at the village council level to determine whether the sheets should be accepted for filing under the circumstance, knowing that whichever decision that is made could be subject to a challenge in court. In addition, she said, the decision of accepting a photocopy as an original document rests with the township clerk, not the village council. Calumet Township Clerk Beth Salmela was unavailable for comment at press time.


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