Alexander Hamilton once said, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” In Michigan, the citizens have incredible power to voice their opinion and influence the sovereignty of their state. Through initiative, Michiganders may propose either a constitutional amendment, which does not require state legislative approval before being placed on the ballot, or state statutes, which must first be submitted to the state legislature for approval before being placed on the ballot. In order to participate in the initiative process, Michigan does not even require that the petitioner register with the state, but rather only requires that the petitioner report campaign contributions in excess of $500. However, petitioners may submit their proposal to the Bureau of Elections in order to greatly reduce the chance that formatting errors will prevent the proposal from being accepted.
In order to qualify an initiative for the ballot, a petitioner must collect a number of signatures determined by the total number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election. Specifically, a petitioner must collect signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast to qualify a constitutional amendment and 8% for a state statue; those figures in 2016 are 315,654 and 252,532 signatures respectively. Once an initiative is on the ballot, it requires a simple majority of Michigan voters to approve it. Once approved, initiatives are quite safe from legislative tampering. If the measure passed is a statute, it requires a ¾ majority of the legislature to overturn it, or if it is a constitutional amendment, the legislature must follow the ordinary legislative process for amending the constitution.