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Groups behind Public Act 4 referendum effort say petitions will withstand legal challenge

Supporters of a ballot initiative to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law say their petitions will withstand any challenges.

They gathered more than 226,000 signatures in an effort to put the law up for voter referendum.

Those petitions now await certification from the state board of canvassers.

Detroit NAACP lawyer Butch Hollowell says the petitions should easily stand up to the latest legal challenge: a claim, filed by the group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, that petition headers were typed in the wrong font size.

“What we have is a longstanding body of law that you want to effectuate the voter’s intent," Hollowell said. "And the key thing is, you want to make sure you err always on the side of access to the ballot.”

The state has until mid-May to make a final decision. If the petitions are certified, the state’s emergency manager law will be suspended until a vote in November.

Hollowell says the petitions themselves are solid, too--and the group is prepared to take anyone challenging their validity to court.

“There was a lot of care that was put forward…to put good signatures on those petition forms," Hollowell said. "All the I’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed.”

The coalition group behind the ballot referendum effort posted this statement today:

"Michigan Forward and Stand Up for Democracy learned via media reports that a group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility plans to challenge the type size used on the petitions. We have not received official word from the Bureau of Elections about this challenge. The challenge deadline set by the Michigan Board of Canvassers is Monday, April 9, 2012. The time to challenge the fruit of the call for Democracy, the signatures from thousands of Michigan voters has passed. If this challenge reveals itself to be true we are prepared to fight this attack. We stand by the 226,637 signatures we submitted on February 29. We are bolstered by the fact that the Bureau of Elections removed a mere 752 signatures in the certification process. Our campaign believes that a successful certification of these signatures will happen soon."

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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