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News (Media Awareness Project) - US MI: With Kalamazoo City Clerks' Error Corrected, Petition
Title:US MI: With Kalamazoo City Clerks' Error Corrected, Petition
Published On:2011-09-09
Source:Kalamazoo Gazette (MI)
Fetched On:2011-09-13 06:00:21

KALAMAZOO -- Originally the organizer of a push to get a medical
marijuana dispensary ballot measure before Kalamazoo voters in
November was told he was 73 signatures short of that goal.

But it turns out, the Kalamazoo Coalition for Compassionate Care,
headed by Chris Chiles, did get the needed number of valid signatures
on the petitions to appear on a ballot -- 2,575 valid names, when the
minimum required was 2,567.

The Kalamazoo City Clerk's office erred in not counting all the valid
signatures on the coalition's petitions, in some cases because of
illegible signatures that didn't seem to match names in the city's
registered voter list, City Clerk Scott Borling said.

It was Chiles who brought the valid-but-uncounted signatures to the
attention of the clerks' office.

But the ballot question -- Shall the Kalamazoo City Charter be amended
to such that three (3) medical cannabis dispensaries are permitted
within the city limits? -- still won't be up for vote this November,
Borling said.

He said the next chance to put the question to a vote in Kalamazoo is
the November 2012 election. Chiles, who initially celebrated the
corrected mistakes, was then disappointed by the news that the
question won't appear on the ballot in Kalamazoo this fall even though
the coalition secured the needed signatures.

He told the Kalamazoo Gazette that he is consulting with his attorney
and questions whether missing the signatures was an honest mistake by
the clerk's office or a tactic.

"We are likely going to sue the city of Kalamazoo over this delay of
petition certification caused strictly by the Clerk's office," Chiles

To appear on the ballot in November, the ballot language for this
local question had to be certified by the city clerk by Aug. 30.

To be certified by the clerk, however, the ballot language must be
approved by the Michigan attorney general by state law, Borling said.
(See the second paragraph of the charter-amendment procedures in the
Home Rule City Act here.)

Chiles turned in signatures on Aug. 9 and 10 and Borling's office
finished counting them on Aug. 24, though they had 45 days to verify
the validity of the signatures.

"It's unlikely you'd get an attorney general response within six
days," Borling said.

Miscounting was revealed by Chiles who had requested by Freedom of
Information Act, the petitions as reviewed by clerks' office,
including notations about which signatures were deemed valid
signatures and which were not.

Chiles cross-referenced those signatures with the city's registered
voter list, found many to be valid, and presented that information to
the city clerk.

Borling told the Gazette that "we reviewed the names, in a few cases
we missed a name, one that was registered."

"But in a lot of cases, the situation was the names were illegible ...
and originally when we did our canvass, we looked up the names as we
could read it and they did not appear in the qualified voter file,"
Borling said.

With errors corrected, Chiles was looking forward to Kalamazoo voters
tackling this issue in November of medical marijuana

That apparently now not a possibility this year, Chiles said "I'm very
concerned about the legitimacy of Democracy here."

But another issue facing the coalition's proposed ballot measure is
the Court of Appeals' recent decision on dispensaries. The appeals
court ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries that do
patient-to-patient sales are illegal in Michigan.

Undeterred, Chiles said there's a chance that ruling will be addressed
by the Michigan Supreme Court.
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