2016-05-19 / Viewpoint

Clerk’s firing could lead to election issues

The Grand Blanc Township Clerk, Chris Rariden, has fired the Deputy Clerk, Sue DeVernay, who runs the elections – she knows the computers, she organizes the election workers, she does our training, she makes sure the elections are run correctly.

The county never has a problem with the way our elections are run. In the three and one half years that Ms. Rariden has been in office (at an annual salary of $60,000 plus benefits), she has not taken the time to learn how the elections are run.

It is our understanding that she spends considerably less than 40 hours a week in the office. After she was first elected, my husband stopped by the office 5 different times to meet her. No matter what time of the day he stopped, the answer was always the same, “she hasn’t come in yet today”.

After firing Sue DeVernay, a week ago Monday, Ms. Rariden has tried to hire 2 different Deputy Clerks, both have turned down the job. We are about two and one half months from the primary in August.

Currently there is no one in the Clerk’s office who can organize or run an election. The ballots won’t be ordered on time, the training that the election workers need to be recertified won’t be done. No one knows how to set up the voting machines and the computers for this election.

We election workers have been learning how to use the computers at the polls since the last Presidential election, so that we would be ready for this Presidential election, and have an efficient and accurate voting experience for the voters in Grand Blanc Township.

At this point, that will not happen. As the clerk, Ms. Rariden has the sole right to fire her Deputy Clerk and hire a new person. That is in her job description. The township board has no authorization to stop her. But, she does not have the right to mess with the voting process to the extent that the voters of Grand Blanc Township may be denied their constitutional right to a vote that counts in the elections in August and November. That is what she has effectively done by firing Sue DeVernay and being unable to procure a qualified replacement.

We have worked almost every election for the past 10 years. We refuse to work on an election that we fear will not be properly run or certified. — Ruth Straw, resident and election worker

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