Advance Notice: Briefs

West Michigan clerk facing felony charge resigns after being stripped of election duties

By: - July 14, 2022 11:17 am

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A West Michigan municipal clerk facing a felony forgery charge has resigned after being ordered by the Michigan Bureau of Elections not to administer any elections or participate in election-related activities.

Montcalm Township Clerk Jessica Shearer was arraigned earlier this month on a charge of forgery of a public document, a felony that carries a maximum 14-year sentence. Authorities allege Shearer signed and submitted a fraudulent resolution that sought to divide the township into two voting districts and relocate the polling locations.

On Wednesday, Shearer submitted a letter of resignation which was unanimously accepted by the township board. The resignation came a day after a letter to Shearer from Michigan’s Director of Elections, Jonathan Brater, noted that she had been formally charged for conduct connected to her official capacity as the clerk for Montcalm Township, and as such he was ordering her to cease all election administration and related duties.

“While the criminal charges you currently face could eventually be resolved in your favor, in order to ensure public trust and confidence in the integrity and security of elections, I am instructing you to refrain from administering any elections held in Montcalm Township while these charges are pending against you,” stated Brater. “This directive is in effect until you are acquitted or the charges against you are dismissed, or you are otherwise notified in writing that this directive has been modified.”

Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard told the Daily News that Krystal Grace-Hatfield, the administrative assistant to the director of the Greenville Department of Public Safety, has been designated to take over those duties. That includes handling the upcoming Aug. 2 primary election.

Shearer, who also garnered criticism for mailing out late absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots for the May 3 election, is next due in court July 20 for a preliminary exam on the charge.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.