Taylor school board candidate appeals to AG over ‘errors’
Taylor — A would-be school board member is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to intervene after the candidate accused the Wayne County Board of Canvassers of miscounting his write-in votes, costing him a seat.
The reason for the alleged miscounting? Misspellings.
Ronald Miller initially received 418 write-in votes in the Nov. 8 election for Taylor’s school board, according to a letter addressed to Schuette and dated Tuesday. That placed him fourth in a race for four available seats.
In fifth place was David Meyers with 392 votes.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers met Nov. 22 to certify the results but did not count “alternative, acceptable spellings” of Miller’s and Meyers’ names, Miller’s lawyers said in the letter. The misspellings changed vote totals in at least 24 precincts, resulting in lower tallies for both candidates.
“But Mr. Miller lost substantially more votes,” lawyers said. “On the basis of this erroneous canvass of the write-in votes, Mr. Meyers was certified by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers as the winner of the fourth Board position instead of Mr. Miller.”
Meyers was awarded the position with 346 certified votes over Miller’s 247 certified votes, according to the letter.
Miller’s letter to Schuette was a “request for quo warranto,” which requires an office holder to prove his or her claim to the seat.
Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said Friday she was aware of Miller’s allegations but declined to comment further.
Blaine Honeycutt, president of the Taylor School Board, said the panel knows about Miller’s allegations. He also said the matter is out of the school board’s hands.
“We really have no input on it,” he said. “If the county Board of Canvassers changes their mind or the courts decide what happens next, we’ll abide by their decision.”
Prior to sending Tuesday’s letter, Miller first appealed to the county’s Board of Canvassers, according to his letter. It allegedly told the candidate the totals would be corrected. When they weren’t changed, Miller contacted the state’s Bureau of Elections.
That department advised Miller that he could pursue “legal action, specifically a claim for quo warranto ... This action must be brought by the Attorney General or if he declines, may be filed by the candidate himself with the court’s permission.”
The Bureau of Elections response also outlined reasons that it or the Secretary of State could not resolve the complaint.
“Our office is aware that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certification of the election results for the office of Taylor School Board was erroneous, but neither the Secretary of State nor Board of State Canvassers possess the legal authority to alter the results certified by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, and the law does not authorized an administrative appeal to this office,” officials said, according to Miller’s letter.
“Had this mistake been discovered prior to the County Board’s final certification of election results on November 22, 2016, the County Board would have had an opportunity to correct the mistake and certify the corrected results,” officials continued. “Regrettably, this canvassing error was not brought to our attention prior to that date.”
Miller and his lawyers ended the letter by asking for swift action.
“In the absence of corrective action, Mr. Meyers was sworn in as a member of the Taylor Board of Education on January 9, 2017,” lawyers said in the letter. “For the reasons stated an action for quo warranto is clearly warranted to correct the errors of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers and declare Mr. Miller the rightful holder of a position on the Taylor School Board.”
Officials with the attorney general’s office said the letter has been received and is currently under reviewed.