Board deadlocks: Voting rights proposal not certified for Michigan ballot

Court battle likely after Promote the Vote 2022 proposal not certified to appear on Nov. ballot

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked during a vote Wednesday over whether to certify a voting rights ballot proposal seeking to make voting in elections easier and more accessible.

During a meeting Wednesday, the two Democratic board members voted in favor of certification, while the two Republican board members voted against certifying the Promote the Vote 2022 proposal.

UPDATE: Promote the Vote appeals board decision to Michigan Supreme Court in ballot bid

Proposal challengers argued that the proposal language failed to explicitly state how aspects of the state constitution would be affected by the proposed constitutional amendment. The two Republican board members seemed to agree, saying the challengers brought up points that call into question the language of petition.

The board did vote 4-0 to approve the proposal, and its language, before it began circulating.

The two Democrats on the Board of State Canvassers argued that the language of the proposal was already approved as is, but if there were judicial questions associated with the language, those challenges should be addressed by a court -- which the board is not. Their vote to certify was based on the Michigan Bureau of Elections’ determination that the proposal’s petition signatures were valid and qualified for certification.

More than 669,000 signatures were submitted in favor of the initiative, of which the state’s Bureau of Elections determined roughly 507,000 signatures are considered valid.

As part of their review process, the bureau thoroughly examines submitted petitions and their signatures, and takes samples to estimate the percentage of legitimate signatures. Bureau officials said Wednesday they have a confidence level of 100% that more than 507,000 signatures are valid, which surpasses the 425,059 signature requirement needed for a constitutional amendment to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The bureau recommended to the board to certify the proposal to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. The Board of State Canvassers does not always follow the bureau’s recommendations, though.

Following the board’s deadlock on Wednesday, proponents of the proposal can appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Nov. 8 ballot must be finalized by Sept. 9.

The committee backing Promote the Vote 2022 has said they will appeal the decision.

The initiative proposes a constitutional amendment that would institute the following:

  • Require nine days of early in-person voting,
  • Recognize the fundamental right to vote without harassing conduct,
  • Require military or overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by election day,
  • Provide voter right to verify identity with photo ID or signed statement,
  • Provide voter right to single application to vote absentee in all elections,
  • Require state-funded postage for absentee applications and ballots,
  • Require state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes,
  • Only election officials may conduct post-election audits,
  • Allow donations to fund elections, which must be disclosed, and
  • Require canvass boards to certify election results based only on the official records of votes cast.

Click here to read the entire Promote the Vote 2022 proposal.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.