By Leah Craig
The Livingston County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Monday night concerning how local elections are funded.
Resolution 2022-06-069 is, at least in theory, designed to optimize election integrity in regards to the “acceptance of unregulated private monies for funding elections.”
Amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a nonpartisan election reform advocacy group, provided grants to communities for the purpose of safely and efficiently serving every voter during the critical election year.
Over $400 million in grants was donated to the CTCL by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. From there, the funds were then allocated to small communities including Brighton, Conway, and Marion townships.
Wes Nakagiri, Chairman of the Board and Commissioner for Hartland and Tyrone Townships, has loudly and repeatedly expressed his views on the matter, claiming that Zuckerberg’s donation has gone directly to these small, rural communities in order to steal the election for Joe Biden. He also reiterated that he had evidence of electoral fraud on the local level.
While Michigan is considered a swing state, Livingston County is known for being relatively consistent in its political views: the last time a Democratic candidate for president won the county was in 1964. So it’s not entirely unexpected to hear that the former president garnered 60.5% of ballots cast in Livingston County in the 2020 Election, a slight change from the 62.2% in 2016. In addition, an overwhelming majority of Marion and Conway Townships are among the precincts that voted Republican, despite Nakagiri’s claims of local fraud.
Nakagiri declined to present the aforementioned evidence, instead opting to present Erick Kardaal, a special counsel for the right-wing Thomas More Society. Kardaal is cited as an expert in pro-life and family values, along with the recent addition of election integrity to his credentials. His expert opinion centered primarily on buzzwords (like dropboxes) and instances of similar legislation being passed in other states. In the end, the resolution was unanimously approved.
The Board’s decision on this matter goes against the federal precedent established by Citizens United vs. FEC. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling states that, per the First Amendment, the government cannot limit or restrict independent political expenditures by private citizens, corporations, associations, or labor unions. On both federal and local levels, the Court’s decision has overwhelmingly worked in favor of Republican candidates.
And yet, the Board of Commissioners’ resolution was seemingly developed, amended, and unanimously passed by those who continue to dispute the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.
The Board’s plan for implementing strategies for facilitating and enhancing election integrity was vague, and while the vast majority of speakers and citizens spoke in favor of the resolution, public commentary provided little assistance in regards to finding a clear-cut, concise solution. Of the approximately fifteen speakers on the topic, only Barbara Tonkovich of Genoa Township provided an alternative to the perceived problem: switching from a technology-dependent voting process to paper ballots and hand-counting.
The Board of Commissioners has stated that training procedures and updated protocol for poll workers will be implemented and in place by the August 2nd primaries.