Michigan Board of Canvassers Denies Place on Ballot for Proposed Election and Abortion Amendments
Two citizen-initiated petition drives to amend the Michigan Constitution failed to secure a place on this fall’s general election ballot due to textual deficiencies.
The decisions were made by the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) at a meeting held on Aug. 31.
One petition sought to make election practices that the Republican-controlled state legislature has tried repeatedly to reform or ban into constitutional mandates—things like the use of absentee ballot drop boxes and the funding of elections by private groups.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has vetoed more than a dozen such election integrity reform bills, calling them “voter suppression.”
The other petition would make abortion a constitutional right in Michigan.
Whitmer has publicly vowed to “fight like hell” to keep abortion legal in Michigan in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both petition drives obtained more than the requisite number of valid signatures to appear on the ballot.
Advocates for each proposal vowed to appeal the BSC decisions to the Michigan Supreme Court.
A ballot proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution to mandate absentee ballot drop boxes in every community and allow the private funding of elections failed to obtain a place on the Nov. 8 general election ballot because of textual deficiencies.
In addition, the proposed amendment would allow people to vote on a regular ballot without a photo ID by signing an affidavit.
Critics fear the proposal would also open the way for convicted felons and jail inmates to vote.
The proposal called Promote the Vote, which is backed by left-wing political action committees and opposed by conservative groups, did not receive a majority vote for approval from the BSC.
The four-member board is divided along party lines, with the two Democrat members voting for placement on the ballot and the two Republican members voting against it.
Republicans on the BSC contended that the language of the proposal failed to inform petition signers of all the sections of the state constitution that would be affected by the petition’s language as required.
Democrats on the board did not see it that way.
In an Aug. 31 press release, Khalilah Spencer, president of Promote the Vote 2022, the organization that created the proposed constitutional amendment, stated, “We are confident that the courts will remedy this needless and unjustified attempt to block our proposal.”
Kristina Karamo, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, publicized a critique of the proposition, calling it a disarmingly written petition that is being used as a cynical ruse to deceive voters into thinking they were voting for more secure elections when in reality, she says, the opposite is true.
Spokesperson Jamie Roe of Secure MI Vote, a grassroots conservative organization opposed to the Promote the Vote amendment, said in an Aug. 31 press release, “The canvassers got it right in denying it a place on the ballot.
“Michigan’s Constitution has strict rules that must be followed before a proposed amendment can be put before the voters.
“Promote the Vote violated those rules.”
According to Roe, the proposed amendment would render meaningless Article 2, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution.
The section reads, “The legislature may by law exclude persons from voting because of mental incompetence or commitment to jail or penal institution.”
Roe said, “Voters who were asked to sign the petition were not told this fact.
“The elimination of this provision would allow convicted and incarcerated felons to vote in our elections.”
Another provision of Promote the Vote’s proposed constitutional amendment would permit a voter showing up at the polls without a government-issued photo ID to sign an affidavit and vote immediately—no more voting a provisional ballot.
Under current Michigan law, casting a provisional ballot requires a voter who has not presented a photo ID to provide documentation verifying his identity to an election official within six days after the election, or the provisional ballot is not counted.
Proposed Abortion Amendment
The proposed Reproductive Freedom for All Amendment, a measure that would legalize abortion on demand at any time and for any reason, right up to the moment of birth, was also denied a place on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The two Republican members of the BSC said their decision to deny a place on the ballot for the abortion amendment was due to multiple misspelled words, the failure to use the specified and legally required font size in places, and the running together of strings of words with no spaces in between—errors found throughout the text of the proposal as it was presented to signers.
The two Democrat members said that was insufficient reason to thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of people that signed the petitions.