Proposals Too Easy To Get On Michigan Ballot?

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Six ballot proposals, and they were all voted down.

Some voters say they were uncomfortable amending the Constitution, others hated the propaganda so much they just voted, "No," and some think anyone who wants their issue on the ballot can just get it there regardless of its worthiness.

School children are taught how a bill becomes a law, but no one ever discusses how a petition becomes a ballot proposal.

"I don't even know what they really have to do to get a proposal on there, so maybe it is easy, I don't know," Lansing voter Alexander Wilkes said.

Experts say it might not be as easy as we think. There were originally 13 issues that attempted to get on the ballot, but of course, only six made it.

"Organizations or individuals went out and got 322,000 valid registered voter signatures, so it's not just 322,000 adults, it has to be registered valid voters," said Jeff Williams, Public Sector Consultants.

Usually they try to get almost double that to ensure enough will be actually registered. But many question the idea of professional circulators of the petitions, paid by interest groups to gather signatures in the required 180 days. Even Governor Rick Snyder raised the issue earlier this week.

"Paid petition circulators being paid a bounty per signature, that's somewhat concerning," Governor Snyder said. "I'm actually interested to hear what citizens have to say on the topic."

Many say they would rather see volunteers.

"I think that's somebody trying to buy our government," local voter Harold Bouchard said.

Williams said that's basically how it works sometimes, like Proposal 6 sponsored by the Ambassador Bridge Owner.

"If you have a couple of million dollars in Michigan, you buy the signatures that you need to get on the ballot, and another $50,000 or $100,000 for legal fees, and we saw that," Williams said. "And that's why so many were attempting, and that's why so many were successful this time."

Successful getting on the ballot, but not so successful when it came to voting.

"Maybe it is time, dare I say, it might be time for an initiative to reform how we do initiatives," Williams said.

There are 24 states that allow initiatives. Williams said Michigan has one of the least restrictive list of requirements.

Some other states require statewide signature gathering and ban paid petitioners.

Governor Snyder said he'd like to have a public discussion before Michigan makes any changes.


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