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County clerk to oversee Muskegon Heights' elections amid staffing shakeup

The change comes after the city's long-time clerk retired earlier this summer.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — There's an election shakeup in the city of Muskegon Heights weeks ahead of the August 2 primary.

The Heights has asked the county to step in to fill the void left by the departure of the city’s longtime clerk and ensure every vote is counted.

“[Sharon] Gibbs has been with the city for a long time,” Mayor Pro Tem Ronald Jenkins related. “We have tons of respect and love for her for the services that she gave to the city of Muskegon Heights. Unfortunately, she did retire.”

That happened around the beginning of July.

The new clerk in town is Jennifer Ross, who is not yet certified to handle ballots.

The Michigan Department of State has a specific accreditation process that’s required under state election law.

“We went to the county and told the county that we needed assistance so that we can make sure that we have the help necessary for the election process,” Jenkins said, “Making sure that our election is able to go forward without a spot or wrinkle.”

The role now falls to the county clerk’s office, where Nancy Waters is usually in charge of counting up ballot totals from individual cities and townships.

Empowered this year by Muskegon Heights city councilors to run things here on a more personal level, Waters promised, “We’ll be monitoring carefully."

They'll also get an assist from the county elections coordinator.

“She has run lots of elections and is very familiar with the equipment that she used there,” she said. “That'll be the same equipment they'll be using in Muskegon Heights on election day.”

Waters said she was confident they won’t miss a beat.

The Heights will fulfill its obligations under election law during the transition – and to Muskegon Heights voters – promising every voice will still be heard.

“That's the assurance that we're committed to and that's what we'll be working very hard for,” Waters said.

Waters told 13 ON YOUR SIDE she was also helping to coordinate some of the training Ross will be required to undergo.

The department of state said that consists of a basic curriculum spread over several days.

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