LANSING — State Representative Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw) is pleased the Buena Vista Township Secretary of State office will remain open, as funding was retained for the location in the budget conference committee. The Buena Vista Township location is within one of two townships in the state still covered under Section 5 of the National Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. When the branch was on the chopping block last year, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division argued that closing this office would disenfranchise minority voters.

“In a time when many voters are unable to access their basic rights, whether it’s at the polls or simply registering to vote, to have this Secretary of State location operational for the services needed by residents of the area is a must,” Rep. Guerra said. “This is a win for Buena Vista Township when it’s faced so many struggles, and I applaud the committee for taking the needs and rights of these residents into account.”

The branch in Buena Vista Township has been a closure candidate since 2007 when residents fought hard to keep it open. For nearly a decade, there has continually been uncertainty on its fate.

Buena Vista Township Supervisor Dwayne Parker said, “We fought for months back in 2007 to secure and retain the operation of the BV Secretary of State office. Unfortunately, each year I have to review the status. Thanks to Rep. Guerra for the support and partnership she has with Buena Vista Charter Township — she makes it easier to stay on top of this.”

“This yearly questioning of whether the residents of Buena Vista Township would see their local Secretary of State branch close or not must stop,” Rep. Guerra said. “While it’s safe this year, next year’s budget could bring the same question again of whether the people who use this location for license renewal, license plate tabs, voting issues and other important services will have to see another vacant building in their township. Stability must exist in Buena Vista Township, and our funding priorities need to show that communities like these are not forgotten.”