Only 1 Michigan ballot issue of 10 submitted before deadline

LANSING, MI — Petition Deadline Day is usually a busy day at the Richard H. Austin Building across from the Michigan Capitol as ballot organizers carry stacks of boxes full of petition papers signed by hundreds of thousands of people.

But on Wednesday, June 1, when 10 legislative initiatives were collecting petitions to the foreign minister by 5 p.m., only one was delivering the paperwork. Some didn’t collect enough signatures, and others – although organizers said they had enough signatures – chose not to submit them.

Related: Michigan Voter Identification Campaign Detects Fraud and Delays Petitions for November Election

That 10 petitions, covering the spectrum of issues from voting to education to pandemic forces, required 340,047 valid signatures to appear on the November ballot. Only one campaign, Michiganders for Fair Lending, met the deadline.

That petition, a two-part proposal, has garnered more than 575,000 signatures, Treasurer Dallas Lenear said Wednesday before carrying boxes to the polls office. After a “thorough quality control process” proposed and required by the bureau, he said, the committee erased invalid signatures and filed 405,265.

“We are now confident that the signatures we are submitting are valid,” Lenear said. “We intentionally avoided any field service team, signature teams that had a history of cheating.”

If the petitions pass the polls’ signature checkers and are approved for voting, the Michiganders would vote on the measure to become law. It would crack down on payday loans by capping service fees and giving the Attorney General oversight powers.

Committees for several other election campaigns with petitions due Wednesday say they have garnered more than minimum signatures but feared they would fail Bureau scrutiny or survive outside challenges. Instead, some are waiting to file petitions that would put the measures before the state legislature rather than Michigan voters.

The reluctance to make petitions comes after a signature fraud scandal ousted five Republican gubernatorial candidates from the August primary.

Related: Perry Johnson stayed away from the gubernatorial election after the court rejected his appeal

An initiative campaign, Secure MI Vote, said Wednesday it found around 20,000 fraudulent signatures when checking its papers.

Below are the nine petitions that were not filed on Wednesday and why:

Unlock Michigan 2: The organizers of that petition, who were the first to announce they would not be running in November’s election, said they had collected the signatures needed but not enough that they believed could survive a challenge.

Proponents will instead focus on passing state legislation next year. In response to COVID-19 pandemic orders, the petition aimed for state emergencies to expire after 28 days unless lawmakers or a local government extend them.

The first Unlock Michigan petition to vote in 2020 was successful in stripping Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of her public health emergency powers.

Safe MI voting: That petition to require voter ID at the polls got nearly 100,000 signatures over the requirement, spokesman Jamie Roe said at a news conference on Wednesday. But the committee also intercepted another 20,000 signatures which they suspect are fraudulent.

Petitions containing approximately 20,000 fraudulent signatures as counted by Secure MI Vote will be heard at a press conference in Lansing, Michigan on June 1, 2022.Ben Orner | MLive.com

Organizers are delaying their filing by a couple of weeks out of “an abundance of caution,” Roe said, as collecting more signatures will hopefully help Secure MI Vote pass polling station verification and fend off challengers.

By filing later, the initiative would go before the Republican majority in the Legislature rather than the voters. Legislature would have 40 session days to vote on it, and Whitmer cannot veto a temporary vote. But the polling station, which is under Democratic administration, can wait until 2024 to verify signatures.

Michigan United: This petition aimed to repeal Michigan’s “Truth in Sentencing Law” and reduce sentences for certain types of prisoners. Wednesday’s deadline was not met.

Yes to the national referendum: Organizers halted their campaign of petitions in December but hope to pass legislation in 2024. The petition would have tied Michigan’s electoral votes in the presidential election to the national winner of the popular vote, an effort other states have supported to bypass the electoral college system.

Let MI Kids Learn: This two-part petition, co-sponsored by former US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, would allow taxpayers to apply for contribution credits for private K-12 students. These “scholarships” would award up to $500 for public school students, $1,100 for students with disabilities, and up to $8,700 for non-public students.

As with Secure MI Vote, organizers will collect even more signatures in excess of the required amount to avoid legal challenges and potentially seek lawmakers to take them up.

Audit MI: This petition did not receive final approval for distribution from the State Board of Advertising. It attempted to transfer election-scrutiny authority from the secretary of state and county officials to a board of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic delegates selected by bipartisan legislative leaders.

raise wages: That petition garnered nearly 500,000 signatures by the deadline — including nearly 460,000 from paid circulators — but was not submitted Wednesday “out of caution” following the governor’s racial scandal, said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage.

“We plan to submit 600,000 signatures to the Electoral Board in June this year, well ahead of our 180-day allowable deadline — for the wage increase measure to be included in the November 2024 vote,” she said.

The initiative called for an increase in Michigan’s minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2023, and then to $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2027.

Michigan Initiative for Community Healing: This petition, which hopes to decriminalize psychedelic plants and mushrooms, is now aiming for signatures later this summer to participate in the 2024 vote, organizer Myc Williams said The Detroit News.

Revive Michigan elections: This petition would have further explored the 2020 Michigan election result, which some continue to falsely say was won by former President Donald Trump. The petition was not submitted by the deadline on Wednesday.

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