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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  • by rwill Location: Lansing on Nov 12, 2012 at 11:53 AM
    The other problem with just voting no on all proposals, it that with the way some are worded voting "No" is actually voting "Yes".
  • by Anonymous on Nov 9, 2012 at 07:55 AM
    The fear is, if you raise the bar on what is required for ballot initiatives, if any honest to goodness grass roots efforts come along they will have a much harder time doing anything if the rules are set to slow private interests. What needs to be done is a defeat of citizens united.
  • by Elaine Location: Location on Nov 9, 2012 at 05:16 AM
    I agree with Kelly and when it is big business who is backing the proposals makes you wonder whose interest they really have.
  • by Kelly Location: Lansing on Nov 8, 2012 at 09:17 AM
    I don't have a problem with Proposals. My only problem is that so many of them are coming from outside of Michigan, and are funded by organizations outside of Michigan. I believe that practice should not be allowed.
  • by rodney duwig Location: lansing on Nov 8, 2012 at 09:15 AM
    The majority of people misunderstood alot of the wording in the proposals and because of that voted No. When are you people going to put them in laymans language so this won't be the problem?
  • by Elaine Location: Location on Nov 8, 2012 at 09:07 AM
    Mark I agree this is a very opionated article. I also would like to know which organizations were behind each proposal. I know it was included in the advertisements but unless you do a lot of digging it is very difficult to find out where it actually originated.
  • by michmom Location: Hillsdale on Nov 8, 2012 at 07:36 AM
    Mark took the words right from my mouth. There were some VERY important issues to be voted on. To just vote without bothering to learn about them? More irrisponsible than not voting at all. Everyone cries when their rights are slowly being trampled, but to lazy to think for themselves.
  • by Charlotte Location: Clinton County on Nov 8, 2012 at 06:11 AM
    I sent a request regarding this issue to the State of Michigan & received the following answer: "A person who signs a petition for a statewide ballot proposal must be a registered voter of the community listed in the heading of the petition. There is no requirement for geographic diversity in circulating statewide ballot proposal petitions (but candidates seeking the office of Governor or US Senate, or voters organizing a new political party, are required to obtain at least 100 signatures from each of at least 7 of Michigan's congressional districts)." & this is my MAJOR concern. Why not have the same requirements to put a proposal on the ballot as needed for Gov., Senate, etc.? A lot of time, money, aggravation would've been avoided.
  • by Eric Location: Grand Ledge on Nov 8, 2012 at 06:10 AM
    Great article. Special interest groups should not be allowed to buy their way into the constituion. The majority of voters just confirmed that as well on Tuesday. Time to reform the way these proposals are allowed to be placed on the ballot. Don't let these unions and billionaires change the laws to benefit themselves.
  • by mark Location: east lansing on Nov 8, 2012 at 05:01 AM
    first off anyone who would vote no just because the ads are anoying is pretty ignorant. second this whole article is just propaganda for the gov.. this was a very opinionated article and bad reporting all around.
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