HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Michigan – Holly Township voters will have another candidate to consider for the township clerk’s position on the August primary election ballot as the Michigan Elections Bureau overturned last month’s rejection of Republican candidate Beverly Lauinger.
Clerk Karin Winchester rejected Lauinger’s petition last month after discovering the primary election date had been omitted from the header of the nominating petitions prior to circulation.
Within days of learning of her rejection, Lauinger contested Winchester’s decision, requesting that the Michigan Bureau of Elections conduct a Determination Review on the matter.
In a letter written to Winchester and dated May 31, Director of Elections Christopher M. Thomas delivered the news.
“This office has carefully reviewed copies of Ms. Lauinger’s nominating petitions and although the date of the primary election is omitted from the heading of the petitions, it is apparent that she intended to qualify as a candidate in the Aug. 7 Primary Election,” Thomas wrote. Thomas noted that all signatures were affixed to the petition during the current election cycle between May 7 and May 14. “After this year, the office of Holly Township Clerk will not appear on the ballot again until 2016,” he continued. “Under these circumstances, the individuals who signed these nominating petitions could not possibly have been confused about when Ms. Lauinger intended to stand for election. For the foregoing reasons, this office has concluded that Ms. Lauinger’s nominating petition is sufficient and that she is qualified to appear as a Republican candidate for the Holly Township Clerk Aug. 7 Primary Election ballot.”
The letter concluded with Thomas’ signature and a notation that read, “c. Bev Lauinger enclosed.”
By late last week, Lauinger had still not received word from the Elections Bureau, and on Friday, she contacted a representative from that office.
“I spoke with Kristi Dougan and she seemed surprised that I hadn’t received any information about the decision,” Lauinger said. “She said the Elections Bureau couldn’t give me any specific information, but encouraged me to contact Holly Township offices if I didn’t receive a letter in the next few days.”
A letter never arrived, causing Lauinger to visit Holly Township offices on June 6. Deputy Clerk Kristy Beelby then gave Lauinger a copy of the letter.
Beelby said the office received the letter on June 1, but that no specific instructions were given in the letter to notify Lauinger. Winchester was out of the office last Friday and is on vacation for the balance of this week, Beelby said.
“I assumed the Bureau of Elections would be notifying Ms. Lauinger,” Beelby said. “A copy of the letter was not enclosed – it just contained a copy of the fax she sent to the Elections Bureau and copies of her petitions.”
Lauinger said she was surprised that the Holly Township offices didn’t forward a copy of the letter onto her.
“I’m really surprised that they didn’t let me know,” she said, “But I’m glad to see that the minor omission of the election date didn’t affect my ability to run, and I’m looking forward to campaigning and all that goes with it.”
Winchester was not available for comment at the time of publishing.