MICHIGAN—Today was the deadline for groups campaigning for new constitutional amendments in Michigan to submit their petitions to the Secretary of State’s office. Two made it through and will likely have their proposals on the November ballot. Here’s what you need to know:
How it Works
- For a constitutional amendment to get on the ballot in Michigan, it needs at least 425,059 citizens’ signatures on a petition, collected during a 180-day window. (By the way: 425,059 is 10% of the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election – that’s the formula for determining the minimum number of signatures required for a proposed amendment initiative to move to the next phase of the process.)
- Completed petitions must be submitted to the Secretary of State (SOS) at least 120 days before the next general election. The Bureau of Elections, a department in the SOS, will then verify the validity and number of signatures. Once done, the Board of State Canvassers votes to certify the signatures, and the proposed amendment is on its way to the ballot.
If both groups’ proposed constitutional amendments pass the verification and voting procedures, you’ll get to vote on them this fall. Here’s what to watch for:
- The Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative
Introduced by the group “Reproductive Freedom for All,” petitions for the “Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative” were turned in today with 753,759 signatures – more than any collected for an amendment initiative in the state’s history, according to the group.
What would this amendment do?
If the “Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative” passes, an amendment would be added to the state constitution guaranteeing a right to reproductive freedom in Michigan. Important notes about this amendment:
- In it, “reproductive freedom” is defined as “the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”
- The state would still be able to regulate abortion after fetal viability, but
- The state could not ban the use of abortion to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.
- An attending healthcare professional would decide if the use of abortion meets those qualifications.
What will happen if it passes? If a majority of voters choose “yes” on the initiative in November, the amendment will be added to the state’s constitution and go into effect 45 days later. Once in the constitution, it could not be amended without going through another vote of the people – effectively protecting reproductive freedom from any attempts a legislature might make to strip Michiganders of abortion rights in the future.
Given poll data of Michiganders, it’s likely the initiative would receive that majority vote:
In a January 2022 WDIV/Detroit News poll, 67% of Michiganders supported Roe and more than 77% believed abortion should be a woman’s decision. In an April Courier Newsroom/Data for Progress poll, only 28% of respondents said the government should be able to make decisions on reproductive rights.
Key Quote: “The Reproductive Freedom for All campaign’s record-breaking signature submission reflects the urgency and grassroots energy powering this movement,” said Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan — one of the groups involved in the campaign — in a statement.
2. Promote the Vote 2022
This initiative was introduced by a coalition of Michigan voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and the American Federation of Teachers’ Michigan chapter, under the name “Promote the Vote.”
What would this amendment do?
Key provisions created within this amendment include:
- The fundamental right to vote without harassment
- Requiring military or overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day
- Providing voters the right to verify their identity with a photo ID or a signed statement
- Allowing voters to file a single request for absentee ballots by mail for all future elections
- Requiring secure ballot drop boxes and absentee ballot tracking
- Requiring election audits to be conducted in public by state and county election officials based on established guidelines
- Requiring nine days of in-person early voting
- Requiring canvassing boards to certify election results based only on the official record of cast votes
More info: Promote the Vote collected 669,972 signatures in support of their proposal. Group president Khalilah Spencer said they went through every signature and threw out any they felt could have raised questions when the Bureau of Elections went to verify (due to legibility, for example).
Key Quote: “When we vote, we win,” said Yvonne White, president of the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP, one of the groups involved in the campaign.
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