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The Michigan Daily put together a local election guide to help voters understand what will be on the ballot for the Nov. 2 Ann Arbor special election. Voters will consider four ballot proposals, outlined below as Proposals A through D.

Voter Registration & Ballot Drop Box Locations 

Residents who wish to vote by mail or with any designated voter registration agency must register to do so by Oct. 18. Voters may request an absentee ballot here.

After Oct. 18, voters may still register to vote in person at the City Clerk’s Office with proof of residency until 8 p.m. Nov. 2.

Voters must return ballots no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, though the City Clerk’s Office recommends voters return ballots in advance. Any Ann Arbor resident voting by absentee ballot can return their ballot at the following drop box locations:

  • Inside Larcom City Hall, 301 E. Huron St., at the north entrance
  • Outside Larcom City Hall on Ann Street, located by the customer service drop box on the north side of Ann Street and east of Fifth Avenue.
  • Parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park Ice Arena and Pool, 2150 Jackson Ave.
  • Outside Ann Arbor Fire Station 5, 1946 Beal Ave. 
  • Outside Cobblestone Farm/Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Customer Service Center, 2781 Packard Rd.
  • Outside Ann Arbor Fire Station 6 at Eisenhower entrance, northwest side of building, 1881 Briarwood Circle

Proposal A: Best Value Purchasing

In July, the Ann Arbor City Council approved a city charter amendment in hopes of allowing city staff to better assess the quality of bidders for public improvement projects.

If passed, this proposal would require the city of Ann Arbor to award contracts for supplies, materials or public improvements based on “best value” instead of going with the lowest responsible bidder, meaning someone who is able to satisfactorily perform the work but at the lowest price. 

The amendment enables the city to prioritize other factors when considering contracts, such as references from previous jobs and the size, complexity and success of past projects.

The city will also take into account whether the bidder aligns with labor protections, such as quality of employee benefits, and whether the bidder engages in an apprenticeship program for its employees. Under this proposal, the city will also assess any past violations of state, local or federal employee protection laws.

Proposal B: Ranked Choice Voting for the Election of City Officers 

If approved, this proposal would allow Ann Arbor voters to elect candidates for mayor and Ann Arbor City Council through ranked-choice voting in the primary and general election, if the state of Michigan authorizes this voting system. 

First invented in the 1850s, ranked-choice voting is a system that allows voters to rank candidates on a ballot in order of preference rather than choosing only one candidate. If no candidate receives a majority vote, ranked-choice voting uses a process of elimination to narrow down a winner with a majority of votes.

According to Fair Vote, 22 jurisdictions across the country have used ranked-choice voting in their most recent elections, and 20 more will use it for the first time in November. In 2016, Maine became the first state to approve ranked-choice voting for all state and federal elections, and Alaska joined the list in 2020.

Ann Arbor previously used ranked-choice voting in 1975, when the city elected Albert Wheeler, its first and only Black mayor. Following backlash from local Republicans, which resulted in a lawsuit and a repeal process, Ann Arbor voters reversed ranked-choice voting in 1976.

Proposal C: Emergency Procurement 

This proposal, if approved, would require the Ann Arbor City Council to establish procedures through a city ordinance for the City Administrator to make emergency purchases.

In August, City Council approved this ballot proposal for the City Administrator to make emergency purchases without obtaining City Council approval. The city currently has a policy in place that allows the City Administrator to make emergency purchases for supplies, materials, equipment, professional services and construction services, but there is no provision in the city charter that explicitly authorizes it, according to the August resolution. 

Proposal D: $75,000 Dollar Limit

Alongside Proposal C, this proposal will give the City Administrator the authority to approve purchases and enter into contracts when the city cost is equal to or lesser than $75,000, with adjustments for inflation.

Currently, the city charter requires all contracts above $25,000 to undergo competitive bidding — or different companies bidding against one another for the job — and to obtain City Council approval. This proposal would maintain the $25,000 limit for competitive bidding but set a new $75,000 limit for requiring City Council approval. If approved, City Council and city staff will no longer spend time on thorough approval processes for certain low-budget proposals.

This article has been updated to clarify information on voting registration deadlines.

Daily News Editor Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu.