State Board of Canvassers Vote Down Petition to Raise Minimum Wage to $10.10

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It took hours of deliberation and a re-examining of questionable signatures, but in the end, the State Board of Canvassers couldn't ignore the numbers given to them by Director of Elections Chris Thomas.

Raise Michigan needed more than 258,000 signatures for the petition to be valid. It wound up 3,908 short; much less than the number it came into the meeting with, when an initial count had it clearing the mark by almost 1,700.

Opposing group 'People Protecting Michigan Jobs' challenged that dozens of signatures in the sample alone had duplicates and there were likely thousands more in the rest of the petition. A two-hour recess allowed staff to check and their findings supported that challenge.

The board voted 3-1 to not certify the petitions for a ballot issue to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

"We're pleased that the staff and the board did examine these signatures. They should not have been counted under any circumstances," said the attorney for People Protecting Michigan Jobs, John Pirich.

Raise Michigan, on the other hand, isn't buying it.

"Based on their sample, we had turned in enough. If you pick specific petitions out of a sample and change the entire sampling process and timelines involved, you can make anything look like anything," said spokesman Frank Houston.

Add in the fact that the challenge was turned in 12 days after the July 11 deadline and Raise Michigan has some serious questions about the entire process.

"We followed the rules and they were set aside today," said Houston. "That's, I think, as big of a concern as even raising the minimum wage."

But the Secretary of State's office says allowing a challenge to be turned in late isn't unprecedented. It happened in 2006 with a different case. Pirich says the signature was too important to ignore.

"The board has a duty. If there's a non-registered voter or improper voter, we ought to have the opportunity to have that considered," said Pirich.

Raise Michigan isn't sure if it will file an appeal, but it needs to decide soon if there's any chance of getting the $10.10/hr measure on the November ballot. An appeal would have to go through the Court of Claims.

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