Wednesday, December 3, 2014

News Hits: Low turnout means lower threshold for ballot initiatives

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:51 AM

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Political observers were disheartened by Michigan’s voter turnout for last month’s general election. Michigan’s Secretary of State’s office reported reported that 3.2 million voters cast a ballot in the election, about 83,000 fewer than the 2010 election. As Michigan Radio noted, it was the lowest total number of voters for an election in the state over the last 24 years.

But a pal of News Hits offered a positive spin on the figures: The threshold mandated by law for signature-gathering requirements to land an initiative on the ballot has been slightly lowered.

Under Michigan law, signature requirements for voter-initiated ballot measures vary depending on the type of petition being filed: For an initiative to create new laws or amend existing legislation (for example, the 2012 petition to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law), 8 percent of the total is required; for a referendum to veto a law passed by the Legislature (e.g., the recent Wolf Hunt measures), 5 percent of the total is required; for initiatives to amend Michigan’s Constitution (e.g., the 2012 push to prevent right-to-work laws from being passed in Michigan), 10 percent is required.

That means for upcoming elections, on a veto referendum, roughly 160,000 signatures will be needed; about 256,000 will be needed for an initiative to create or amend legislation; and about 320,000 will be needed for a constitutional amendment.

Got a suggestion of what should be put up for a vote in the next election? Drop the Hits a line at

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