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Submission deadline approaches for initiative petitions

person writing on paper
Recalls are not an easy thing to pull off

The submission deadline for initiative petitions to get on Michigan’s November ballot is Wednesday.

That means time is running out for the several campaigns in the field to come up with 340,047 valid signatures.

Jamie Roe is spokesperson for the Secure MI Vote campaign to tighten Michigan’s voter ID laws.

He said the effort has already hit the signature threshold but is working on building a cushion for protection against extra scrutiny.

“We do verify all of our petitions before we file so we are very confident that everything we will file will meet the needed threshold, will meet every requirement required by law,” Roe said.

Multiple Republican candidates for governor lost their spot on the Republican primary ballot last week due to significant problems with suspected signature fraud on their nominating petitions.

The issue could have impacted initiatives like Let MI Kids Learn but spokesperson Fred Wszolek said potential fraudsters were caught early.

“I mean, this is serious business. People are talking about statutes and candidates and constitutional amendments, and these clowns do this. I mean this is really messing with the way democracy works,” Wszolek said.

Let MI Kids Learn has two petitions out in the field. One would create “Student Opportunity Scholarships” that eligible families could use to pay for private school tuition and other education-related costs. The other would amend Michigan tax law to incentivize donating to those scholarships.

It’s an effort that passed the state Legislature last October but received a veto from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

If their signatures hold up, the Republican-led Legislature could enact petitions like Let MI Kids Learn or Secure MI Vote in to law without the governor’s signature.

Other petitions, like a campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, will likely have to win over voters in November to become law.

Chantel Watkins, with the group One Fair Wage, said that might be the easy part compared to collecting the qualifying number of signatures. She credited a strong volunteer base with gathering around 400,000 as of Friday.

“They know exactly what it’s like to have to pick which bill is getting paid that week, so a lot of people are pitching in because, no more. And inflation is insane right now. So, people definitely have kind of stepped up, especially in the last month, to want to help,” Watkins said.

While initiative petitions must submit their signatures to the secretary of state Wednesday, proposed constitutional amendments have until July 11 to file theirs.

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