It’s been a great summer for petition campaigns — most of them, that is. After hundreds of thousands of Michiganders signed petitions, ballots this fall will list three momentous questions — whether to legalize marijuana; whether to end gerrymandering with a nonpartisan method of carving political districts; and whether to expand voting rights in several ways that include allowing straight-party voting, again, as well as allowing “no-reason” absentee voting. To get on the November ballot, these big statewide campaigns had to leap numerous legal hurdles and turn in truckloads of signed petitions that were flyspecked by lawyers or trained volunteers. But some petition efforts didn’t go as well. In Oakland and Macomb counties, two local campaigns — one in Troy, another in Warren — used paid circulators to gather signatures and both ended with cries of “forgery!” That’s giving fuel to the fire of critics who say Michigan should tighten regulations on petition campaigns.
In Troy, a ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals this week was the last hurrah for a group of marijuana business operators fighting a new city ordinance. The ruling vindicated the Troy city clerk’s decision in August to toss out hundreds of questionable petitions. Surprisingly, many listed the names of prominent residents who told the Free Press their signatures had been faked. County detectives are investigating, according to the Oakland County Prosecutors Office.
In Warren, a petition drive behind a ballot question that was aimed at keeping Mayor Jim Fouts from running again ran afoul of similar allegations — seemingly faked signatures and other problems. That led to a unanimous vote last month by the Warren City Council calling for a criminal investigation.
Full Article: Forged signatures on petitions blemish ballot campaigns.