Only one of 10 Michigan ballots submitted before deadline

LANSING, MI – Petition closing day is usually busy at the Richard H. Austin Building across from the Michigan Capitol as ballot organizers carry stacks of boxes filled with petition materials signed by hundreds of thousands of people .

But on Wednesday, June 1, with 10 legislative initiatives collecting petitions due to the Secretary of State by 5 p.m., only one delivered the documents. Some didn’t collect enough signatures, and others – even though organizers said they had enough signatures – decided not to turn them in.

Related: Michigan voter ID campaign exposes fraud, delays submission of petitions for November ballot

The 10 petitions, which span the gamut of issues from voting to education to pandemic powers, needed 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 Office of Elections office. After a “thorough quality control process” suggested and requested by the Bureau, he said, the committee eliminated the invalid signatures and submitted 405,265.

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

If the petitions pass the Elections Office’s signature checkers and are approved for the ballot, Michiganders would vote on the measure to become law. It would crack down on payday loans by capping service fees and giving the state attorney general oversight powers.

Committees for several other election campaigns with petitions due Wednesday say they collected more than the minimum number of signatures, but feared they might not pass Bureau verification or survive outside challenges. Instead, some are waiting to submit petitions, which would put the measures before the state legislature rather than Michigan voters.

The reluctance to deliver petitions comes after a signature fraud scandal forced five Republican gubernatorial candidates to drop out of the August primary ballot.

Related: Perry Johnson withheld gubernatorial ballot after court denied appeal

A campaign initiative, Secure MI Vote, said on Wednesday it found around 20,000 fraudulent signatures when reviewing its documents.

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

Unlock Michigan 2: The first to announce that he would not apply for the November ballot, the organizers of this petition said they had collected the required signatures but not enough, according to them, to survive a challenge.

Proponents will instead focus on passing the state legislation next year. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic orders, the petition sought to demand that state emergencies expire after 28 days unless extended by the legislature or a local government.

The first Unlock Michigan petition, which passed in 2020, succeeded in stripping Governor Gretchen Whitmer of her health emergency powers.

Secure IM Voting: This petition asking for voter ID at the polls has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures above the requirement, spokesman Jamie Roe said at a press conference on Wednesday. But the committee also captured another 20,000 signatures they suspect were fraudulent.

Petitions with approximately 20,000 fraudulent signatures, according to Secure MI Vote’s tally, sit during a press conference in Lansing, Michigan on June 1, 2022.Ben Orner | MLive.com

Organizers are delaying their submission for a few weeks out of “excess caution,” Roe said, because collecting more signatures will hopefully help Secure MI Vote pass the Elections Office’s review and fend off challengers.

By submitting later, the initiative would go before the Republican-majority legislature instead of the voters. Lawmakers would have 40 session days to vote on it, and Whitmer cannot override a pass vote with a veto. But, the Elections Office, which is under a Democratic administration, can wait until 2024 to review the signatures.

Michigan United: This petition sought to repeal Michigan’s Truth in Sentencing Act and reduce prison terms for certain types of prisoners. He missed Wednesday’s deadline.

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

Let MI Kids learn: This two-part petition backed by former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would allow taxpayers to claim credits for private school students’ K-12 contributions. These “scholarships” would give up to $500 for public school students, $1,100 for students with disabilities and up to $8,700 for non-public students.

Like Secure MI Vote, organizers will collect even more signatures above the required amount to avoid legal challenges and eventually aim for the legislature to seize it.

IM Audit: This petition did not receive final approval from the Board of State Solicitors. He sought to shift election audit authority from the secretary of state and county clerks to a council of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic delegates chosen by bipartisan legislative leaders.

Increase salary: That petition garnered nearly 500,000 signatures by the deadline — including nearly 460,000 by paid circulators — but was not submitted Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution” in the wake of the governor’s race scandal, the governor said. President of One Fair Wage, Saru Jayaraman.

“We expect to submit 600,000 signatures to the Board of Elections in June, well ahead of our 180-day deadline – for the wage increase measure to be included in the November 2024 ballot,” she said.

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

Michigan Initiative for Community Healing: This petition in hopes of decriminalizing psychedelic plants and mushrooms is now aiming to submit signatures later this summer to be on the 2024 ballot, organizer Myc Williams Told The Detroit News.

Restarting the Michigan Elections: This petition would have further investigated the outcome of Michigan’s 2020 election, which some continue to erroneously claim was won by former President Donald Trump. The petition missed the Wednesday deadline.

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Joseph E. Golightly