- Posted July 20, 2014 by
Recall hearing against county sheriff in hands of State board of canvassers
on July 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM, updated July 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM
FLINT, MI – A man who wants voters to recall Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell will get his wish to have the state decide if the effort can move forward.
But he'll have to file his petition for a third time to do it.
The Genesee County Elections Board has canceled a July 21 hearing on the recall after County Clerk-Register John Gleason discovered a state law that requires such efforts against most elected county officials be decided by a state board.
Nick Singelis II filed a recall petition against Pickell last week, alleging the sheriff failed to investigate allegations of human trafficking.
Fred Woodhams, communications manager for the Michigan Secretary of State, said the Board of State Canvassers in Lansing will listen to arguments on any hearing that is given to the secretary of state's office based on Michigan Election Law.
According to Michigan Election Law MCL 168.959, petitions recalling U.S. Senator, members of congress, elected state officials and "county officials except county commissioners, shall be filed with the secretary of state."
While that was last edited in 1976, the law was updated in December 2012 to include section 168.951a, which designates that it go to the Board of State Canvassers.
Currently Republican Colleen Pero is chairwoman of the Board of State Canvassers, Democrat Jeannette Bradshaw is vice-chair, and Republic Norman D. Shinkle and Democrat Julie Matuzak sit on the board.
Because of the four member board, a tie vote would be considered a decision against the recall.
If Singelis files, it would be the first county recall hearing the board has heard since the changes, Woodhams said.
"This hasn't come to the board before," he said.
However, Pickell feels confident that, no matter the location, the language will be rejected as the process moves back to square one.
"When you do the right thing and you're telling the truth, you don't have to worry about anything," Pickell said. "I'm confident that wherever we go, whether it's Flint or Lansing. ... I will prevail because the truth never changes."
If approved, Singelis would have 60 days to gather roughly 33,000 signatures from county residents, Woodmans said.
Different from local recalls, if those signatures are collected in the process against those state or county officials, a recall primary election is held before deciding who's names go on the ballot for a partial term.
A recall hearing already took place in March against Pickell and although the county board of elections denied it, had they not, Gleason said it's likely the process would have been null and void.
Gleason said it's his fault this wasn't discovered in March.
"My name goes on the office," Gleason said. "I should've caught it. I take responsibility for it."
Singelis said he plans to go to Lansing to file in the next few days and, while there, plans to ask the state's legal department about the first recall hearing.
"I want to ask about the ramifications for the county for having it outside of state law," he said.
Singelis said he thinks this could put a damper on recall efforts against county officials throughout the state and that's not a good thing.
"It really forces everyone to hire an attorney and unfortunately, that puts a lot of organizations and a lot of groups and classes of people at a disadvantage," he said.