November brings thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner, falling leaves, elections, and Veteran’s Day. At the Macomb County Clerk’s office, headed by County Clerk Anthony Forlini, two of these are of particular importance. With approximately 100 employees spread between three buildings, the County Clerk’s office focuses on four major areas—Vital Records, Register of Deeds, Courts, and Elections.
“The one most folks are familiar with is elections,” he says. “The county election department is responsible for the administrative side of the election process—it is the clerks in local municipalities that actually have the responsibility to run elections for all of us.” This administrative work at the county includes receiving candidate and proposal filings, preparing, proofing, and distributing ballots to local clerks, tabulator programming, election result accumulation, recounts, recalls, and assisting local clerks, the public, and the County Board of Canvassers to “check and double check” all election processes. With new changes allowing for at least nine days of early voting, “We want to make it easy for clerks to do their jobs while protecting our election system.”
“The most important thing we can do is to make sure we have free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people,” he says. “Voters need to stay informed, get to know the candidates and proposals and then go vote.” Forlini values public awareness and transparency in the election process. “We are the only county clerk in the state to do a forensic audit of the election server, and though we found no election interference, we developed new security protocols that further strengthened our systems. Our job in this department is never done, as we make continued security improvements and updates in our election department.”
All of this is a big job, and Forlini had a lot to do to improve things when he started as County Clerk. “We were months behind on records and filings, voicemail was used often, and employees weren’t cross trained, which slowed down service during vacations and illness. Concealed Pistol License (CPL) appointments were as far out as three months and you had to go to a different building to get fingerprinted.” All that has changed, Forlini says. With improvements to cross-training, the implementation of new technology, and other changes, “We have all but eliminated wait times for all services.” Deeds are now registered within 24-48 hours, the Vital Records Department provides service within minutes, concealed weapons permits are processed the same day, and fingerprints can be done without a trip to the Sheriff’s Department. “I believe we owe the taxpayers a service,” he continues. “They do not owe us a job. Every resident deserves friendly, efficient service and that is our goal."
With Veteran’s Day on the horizon, Forlini is eager to remind veterans how their office can help. “One of the ways we honor our veterans at the Clerk’s office is to make sure they and their families have access to proof and verification that they served in the military—a form called a DD214.” This form, critical for the proof of service needed for special home loans, Social Security benefits, membership in veteran’s organizations, or to honor a loved one with a military burial, says Forlini, can be retained for free forever at the Clerk’s office. “You never know when you are going to need access to this document,” he adds. “Let us keep it safe for you.”
The Macomb County Clerk’s office is looking out for jurors as well, with free parking now being offered downtown. “Parking was not provided for our jurors, and that was a problem for me,” he explains. “I love Mount Clemens and our existing parking by parking meter created some bad will, with jurors leaving Mount Clemens as soon as jury service was over.” By providing free parking, Forlini hopes jurors will feel free to take the time to try a great local restaurant or some of the other “cool places Downtown Mount Clemens has to offer.”
As someone who has lived in Macomb County his entire life, serving first as Harrison Township Supervisor and State Representative before his election as County Clerk in 2020, Forlini feels a strong commitment to the area his office serves. Married to his high school sweetheart, Diane, for 38 years and a proud father and grandfather, he was knighted by the President of Italy in 2016 for charitable works between the two countries and is focused on providing the community the best service possible. “We believe that honesty is the best policy. We believe that concern for your neighbor is more important than a political belief. We believe that we are problem solvers. We aim to show this every day.”