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Marijuana campaign says it’s not too late to make ’16 ballot

Marijuana plants
Flickr user A7nubis
Marijuana plants.

The campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan says there’s still time to get the question on the November ballot. That was a core issue in the most recent briefs filed last week in the MI Legalize campaign’s challenge to an elections board decision that petition drive fell short in the required number of signatures.

The Board of State Canvassers said too many signatures were more than 180 days old when the petitions were turned in. The rule exists to ensure that only the names of currently registered voters are counted. MI Legalize says the rule is anachronistic when it’s very easy to check the names against the state’s online database of registered voters. So the campaign is asking a state Court of Claims judge to order the state to count the older signatures.

“We’ve worked so hard,” says MI Legalize attorney Jeff Hank. “So many people have put a lot into this, and we really just want to have the opportunity to vote on it. So, we feel like we have a really good case, a really good argument.” 

The Legislature responded to the controversy by adopting a law to enshrine the 180-day rule, but Hank says the law does not apply in this instance because the petitions were turned in before it was adopted.

Hank says the state has until at least September 9 to finalize the ballot in time to get absentee ballots printed and in the mail by the September 24 deadline.

But the state says it’s already too late. The state argues it’s not possible now for elections officials to do a thorough review, put the question to the Legislature for 40 days as required by the Michigan Constitution, and still make the deadline to get on the November ballot.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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