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Interim clerk prepares for election season

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 27, 2016

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Interim Township Clerk Ed Carey hasn’t had much time to settle into his new role within Macomb Township before preparing for a busy election season.

Carey was appointed by the Board of Trustees June 22 to become the interim clerk following the retirement of Michael Koehs in early June. Carey picked Mickey Todd to be his deputy clerk.

Despite the short notice of taking over their positions just prior to the Aug. 2 local primary election and November general election, Carey and Todd hope to use their decades worth of experience to ensure the elections run smoothly throughout the township.

“It’s been challenging because we lost our two leaders when Michael (Koehs) and Jimmy (Gelios) resigned. You can’t replace those two guys,” Carey said. “(What) they had, it’s just something that’s irreplaceable, so we’re doing what we can to get this election held without any major problems.”

Carey was a 14-year veteran of the Clerk’s Office before being picked for his new position. He said that he will be able to return to his old position of campaign manager following the general election. Prior to his manager position, Carey served as campaign supervisor in the township for a decade.

Todd was the city clerk in Harper Woods for nearly 30 years prior to starting his position as an elections coordinator in Macomb Township more than four years ago. Todd is a candidate for the clerk’s position in the local primary.

“We both have extensive experience, and we know the process,” Todd said. “Ed knows the process more from a county perspective, I know it from more of a local perspective, so between the two of us, we’ve developed a system that’s pretty efficient.”

Despite sharing several decades of experience, Carey said it’s a new feeling to be the leader of the office during an election now.

“It’s a different feeling when you’re the one that’s leading the group rather than being the one that’s following, but I felt like as much as I was reluctant to take the job, I felt like I had to because I owed it to the staff here to step up and try to help out,” Carey said.

As for the actual election, Todd said the township mailed 8,371 absentee ballots, and it had already received 40 percent of the ballots by July 20. Todd said the township averages sending 6,000 absentee ballots for a local primary, but the township has campaigned to increase the number of absentee voters.

“It’s more of a convenience. You see increasingly throughout most of the United States and Michigan more of an opportunity to vote by mail,” Todd said. “A lot of folks in Macomb Township are working and commuting, and I think those folks should get an option to have a ballot be sent to them ahead of time. Plus, it’s a more informed way to go about voting. You can look up information about candidates, and you can make a more prudent decision about who to elect.”

Todd and Carey said the Clerk’s Office has hired seasonal workers to prepare and staff precincts on local primary day, but their main concern is aging equipment that is becoming prone to breakdowns.

Todd said the election tabulation equipment used in the township dates back to the ’90’s.

“Most of the equipment used in the country today, particularly ours and throughout Michigan, is old and subject to a mechanical or electronic failure,” Todd said. “The state needs to move forward certifying new election equipment so we have a 21st-century voting system instead of what we have now.”

Todd will be opposed by fellow Republicans Charles Missig and Kristi Pozzi in the race for clerk. Since there are no Democratic opponents, the race for clerk will essentially be decided on primary day.

Despite many races being decided on primary day, Todd said turnout for local primaries in Michigan is only about 16 percent.

“A lot of people will bypass voting in the August primary, even though in our case for the township, that’s a critical election because essentially whoever gets elected or receives a nomination in this election cycle will be the future appointee,” Todd said.