Michigan canvassers deadlock on ballot initiative to improve voting access

The board’s two Republicans made a complicated argument to keep the initiative off the ballot

click to enlarge The Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked on a ballot initiative to improve voting access. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
The Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked on a ballot initiative to improve voting access.

The two Republicans on the Michigan Board of Canvassers on Wednesday refused to certify a ballot initiative intended to improve voting access.

The 2-2 deadlock means the Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether the Promote the Vote initiative will appear on the ballot, with a little more than a week to resolve the issue.

The Promote the Vote initiative calls for nine days of early voting, secure drop boxes, ballot tracking, public funding for postage on absentee ballots, and additional time for military and overseas voters to return their absentee ballots. The initiative would also allow voters to request an absentee ballot for all future elections.

Republican Canvassers Tony Daunt and Richard Houskamp said the voting rights petition failed to identify every constitutional provision the amendment would override, an argument that Democrats rejected as “pretty silly.”

“We are not a court, and we cannot decide questions of law,” Democratic Canvasser Mary Ellen Gurewitz said at the meeting. “What we’re supposed to be doing is, are there sufficient number of signatures, and on that question I think we know the answer is yes.”

Promote the Vote submitted nearly 670,000 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot, surpassing the roughly 425,000 required.

The Republicans voted against the Bureau of Elections’ recommendation to approve the initiative.

“There are hundreds of thousands of signatures signed to something that wasn’t a legal petition,” Houskamp insisted.

Promote the Vote attorney Christopher Trebilcock rejected the Republicans’ arguments as “absurd” and urged the board to do the right thing and approve the initiative.

“You are all wise enough and experienced enough to see through this misinformation that was put forward,” Trebilcock said. “It’s time to take a courageous step.”

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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