Citizens Taking Action in North West Michigan
This morning the Grand Traverse Democrats sponsored an informative Zoom hour with Mark Brewer. He is a former Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and is now a practicing attorney specializing in election law. He has been one of the attorneys defending the implementation of Proposal 2 (End Gerrymandering) and of Proposal 3 which enhanced all our voting rights.
I am going to summarize the information he gave and I am the only one responsible for any errors made. I take careful notes but I do miss some things.
Public Act 608 was passed in the infamous lame duck session in 2018. It requires that when you collect signatures for ballot proposals, you collect by congressional districts not counties as has been done for at least 100 years. It also requires that no more than 15% of signatures come from any single congressional district. It also makes it more challenging to use paid collectors. These requirements were struck down in, I believe, October and now have been appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. They will rule within the next few months.
Fair and Equal Michigan is a petition that would add LGBTQ protections to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. They are attempting to gather signatures electronically. I just went to their website fairandequalmichigan.com/sign and the procedure seems simple enough. It will be litigated but we need to change with these challenging times.
There is a petition for a ballot proposal to forbid an abortion procedure. It has been turned in to the Board of Canvassers and they are validating signatures. There has been no announcement about whether or not they have sufficient valid signatures. If the Board of Canvassers says they do, there will be challenges to the signatures. If it gets past that challenge, the legislature could adopt it and Governor Whitmer could not veto it. We hope it can be derailed before this legislature can act.
The 6-week abortion petition has not been completed and there is no current activity. It is a strategy of the anti-abortion groups to get a case to the SCOTUS and have them overturn Roe v. Wade.
There is a current court case to overturn the terms of Prop 2 concerning the makeup of the redistricting commission. The 6th Circuit Court 3 judge panel upheld the requirements but the 6th Circuit may have the whole court hear arguments. This may also be appealed to SCOTUS if the opposition does not like the results of the whole 6th Circuit ruling.
Candidates who may only get on the ballot by signature collection have until May 8th to file. They also have to collect only half the number of signatures as previously required and the court has ruled they may use electronic signatures such as DocuSign. I have used DocuSign for selling property out of the area and it is safe and efficient. This affects only congressional and judicial candidates who must have signatures. There may be other candidates but not our local ones.
The May 5th election is a test for mail only balloting. The Secretary of State and the Governor have mailed applications to all registered voters. They return the application in a postpaid envelope. They will receive the ballot and then return in another postpaid envelope. One polling place will be open in each district but this is a mainly mail election. I lived in Colorado where we did all elections by mail. It was safe, efficient and many more people participated than here in Michigan.
There is a recall petition being filled against Governor Whitmer. The language is being reviewed by the Board of Canvassers. It must be signed by over 1 million valid signatures. It is being financed by the usual right-wing groups.
The Secretary of State has issued signature matching standards for absentee ballots. Previously it was simply up to the clerk.
The voting rights groups are working to try to get absentee ballots postmarked by election day to count but as of now, the absentee ballot must be in the hands of the clerk by the end of voting on election day.
The 200 names of people who are being considered for the redistricting commission will be made public before the 13 are chosen. We need to check these carefully for any misrepresentations or other problems.
Most of the litigation to defend Prop 2 and Prop 3 is being paid for by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters. Please consider joining or contributing to these efforts. Although much legal work is done pro bono, there are lots of costs associated, as we all know from the Inman Recall.
I have been as careful as possible. If you have any questions or corrections, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org