AG Nessel, Benson warn against deceptive petitions

Michigan AG Nessel speaks during Tuesday's press conference.
Michigan AG Nessel speaks during Tuesday's press conference.(Tyler Markle)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 3:14 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are warning Michiganders about an increase in complaints of deceptive petition circulation, with circulators allegedly misleading people about the true nature behind the petitions they’re being asked to sign. 

Reports indicate people were told by circulators that the petition was about one topic, such as helping small businesses or supporting medical marijuana initiatives. But, the actual printed content was completely different from what was described by the circulator. Instead, the content had items on it like repealing state legislation.  

Circulators are often paid per signature collected, so there is an incentive for them to collect as many as possible. 

“Regardless of what your political stance is, I am urging anyone who is approached by a petitioner to carefully read and make every best effort to understand what you are agreeing to sign,” Nessel said. “The petition process is an important right that belongs to the people of this state, but these deceptive and dishonest practices are not being conducted in the spirit of a free and transparent democracy, one in which the power truly rests with an informed populace.” 

“For decades we’ve seen Michigan citizens intentionally deceived about ballot petitions, and particularly our most vulnerable populations,” Benson said. “The recent increase in complaints demonstrates it’s high time for the Legislature to act to make it a crime to intentionally mislead a voter into signing a petition.” 

More than a dozen complaints have been received. Complaints have primarily been focused in places like Saline, Madison Heights and Dearborn Heights, and Kalamazoo. 

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