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.
Articles about voting issues in Michigan.
Michigan: U.S. Supreme Court won’t intervene in Michigan’s straight-party voting dispute | Associated Press
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t intervene in a dispute over Michigan’s ban on straight-party voting. The court turned down an appeal Friday, which means the ban will go into effect in the November election. Voters can’t use a single mark to quickly pick all candidates of a single party. A Detroit federal judge said the ban violated the rights of black voters. But an appeals court this week suspended that decision and said the ruling likely will be overturned.
State elections officials on Thursday added a third proposal to the Nov. 6 ballot that would expand voting rights in Michigan. The Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to certify signatures for a ballot initiative that would amend the Michigan Constitution to allow for no-reason absentee voting by mail, guarantee continued straight-party voting and let residents register to vote up to and on Election Day. The approval from canvassers comes a day before the deadline for inclusion on the November ballot and roughly a week after the ballot committee Promote the Vote asked a federal judge to force state certification of the proposal.
Michigan: Federal appeals court: No straight-ticket voting in November election | The Detroit Free Press
Straight-ticket voting won’t be available as an option in the Nov. 6 general election, under a federal appeals court ruling released late Wednesday. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision marked by a sharply worded dissent, blocked a ruling by a federal judge in Detroit that would have struck down a 2016 law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature to ban straight-ticket voting in Michigan. There was no immediate word on a further appeal of the ruling, but there is little time before the Michigan ballot is finalized. U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain declared the law unconstitutional in August, following a bench trial. Drain said the ban on straight-ticket voting “presents a disproportionate burden on African Americans’ right to vote,” partly because, in Michigan’s most populous counties, there is a strong correlation between the size of the black voting population and the use of straight-ticket voting.
A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges Michigan’s election laws purposefully try to confuse and disenfranchise young, college-aged voters. College Democrats at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Bureau of Elections Director Sally Williams claiming the state’s youngest voters are “particularly vulnerable to restrictive voting laws and uniquely susceptible to voter confusion.” The suit claims Michigan’s laws violate the First, Fourteenth and Twenty-Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and will presumably seek relief from these two come Nov. 6: “Rogers’ Law,” which requires a citizen vote where their driver’s license lists their address, as well as a law requiring first-time voters to vote in person, meaning they can’t participate in early or absentee voting.
Eight Republican congressmen from Michigan can intervene in a gerrymandering lawsuit filed by a women’s group and Democratic voters, a Sixth Circuit panel ruled Thursday. A district court panel had previously denied the lawmakers’ motion, citing a “significant likelihood of undue delay and prejudice.” The lawsuit, filed in December 2017 by the League of Women Voters and 11 Democratic voters against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, claimed Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally altered the state’s election map after the 2010 census.
A group trying to get a voting rights proposal on the November ballot is suing state election workers for not validating the initiative despite the group having the necessary number of signatures. Promote the Vote filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Eastern District Court Tuesday claiming Michigan’s Secretary of State, Board of Canvassers and Bureau of Elections has violated the Constitution by not yet authorizing their ballot proposal, which would allow citizens to register on Election Day and allow no-reason absentee voting. The suit claims the state agencies are in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment. The group collected 432,124 signatures during its petition drive, more than the 315,654 signatures necessary to get a proposal on the ballot, according to the suit. The Bureau of Elections, however, determined that there were insufficient valid signatures when it examined a sample of 500.
A voting rights nonprofit affiliated with a Democratic super political action committee is behind the recent mystery public record requests that blanketed clerk’s offices around Michigan. Priorities USA Foundation contracted a third party to send hundreds of public records requests to clerks throughout the state asking for copies of ballots and accompanying materials from the November 2016 election, the group confirmed Tuesday. The nonpartisan foundation is a separate but affiliated entity with Priorities USA Action, a self-defined “progressive” super PAC that spent $6.4 million supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton and $126 million opposing Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Among the super PAC’s biggest donors in 2015-16 were George Soros, the liberal chairman of the Open Society Foundations; New York hedge fund manager James Simons; and Newsweb Corp. CEO Fred Eychaner of Chicago, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
A would-be hacking attempt into the national Democratic Party’s massive voter file wasn’t that at all. It turns out to be the work of a technology company hired by Michigan Democrats, all in the name of testing how secure the party can keep information on tens of millions of Americans. “This was an unauthorized test, not an attack,” Bob Lord, the Democratic National Committee’s chief security officer, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. That finding, discovered after national party officials already had contacted federal law enforcement fearing a malicious hacking attempt, marks an odd and potentially embarrassing twist to the party’s data security efforts two years after Russians penetrated DNC computers and released internal communications the upended the 2016 presidential election. The chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, Brandon Dillon, did not respond to a request for comment.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is asking a federal judge to reconsider his decision to allow straight-ticket voting on the November 2018 ballot, according to an emergency court motion filed Tuesday. The motion asks U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain to issue an immediate stay pending appeal of Drain’s Aug. 9 injunction on a 2016 Michigan law that removes the straight-party voting option. The motion asks for a decision by Friday, Aug. 17, citing the need to set the November ballot. The motion, which was filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette, argues that the state is likely to prevail on appeal and voters will not be harmed if the straight-ticket option is not available.