A row of voting booths at a polling station. (Image via Shutterstock)
A row of voting booths at a polling station. (Image via Shutterstock)

Reproductive freedom, voting rights, term limits and financial transparency. There’s a lot at stake in November.

Michiganders will see three proposals on their November 8 ballot. You’ll find them on the last page of your ballot in the Nov. 8 election. Here’s a quick-reference guide.

Proposal 1

tl;dr:

Proposal 1 deals with two issues—term limits for state legislators, and financial disclosures to expose conflicts of interest for government leaders.

Scroll below the images to get the inside baseball on this proposal.

Inside Baseball

Type of ballot issue: Proposal 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. That means it’s already been passed by Michigan’s legislature. But just like every state (except Delaware), Michigan requires voter approval for any amendment to the state Constitution.

Issue 1: Term Limits

Before 1992, there were no term limits for federal or state offices in Michigan. But in the November 1992 election, voters approved Proposal B—a constitutional amendment giving term limits to elected leaders:

State House of Representatives: three 2-year terms
State Senate: two 4-year terms

If a politician wanted to stay in office, they could exhaust their total allowed terms in one chamber (six years in the House, eight years in the Senate), then run for the other, giving them a total cap of 14 years in the state legislature.

This year’s Proposal 1 seeks to tweak those term limits, in an effort to allow legislators to serve longer durations in one chamber with a shorter overall cap:

State House of Representatives: six 2-year terms
State Senate: three 4-year terms

Politicians could still run for either chamber, but they’d have an overall cap of 12 years total in Michigan’s legislature. Nothing would change about how or when they’re elected.

This proposal has bi-partisan support in the legislature.

Advocates say it would hold lawmakers more accountable to the policies they create in-office, if there’s a chance they’ll still be around a few years down the road. They also say the proposal would allow lawmakers to focus more on building institutional knowledge in one chamber, invest more in longer-term strategies, and essentially get more done rather than thinking about building a campaign for their next move. Remember, they must be elected to every term—so even if they wanted to spend 12 years in the House, for example, they couldn’t do it unless they were voted in every two years.

Issue 2: Financial Disclosures

Proposal 1’s financial disclosure issue addresses conflicts of interest in the state government. A new subsection to the Constitution would be added, requiring elected officials to file financial disclosure reports—including details about all sources of income (and promised income) for state lawmakers, the governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general.

Here’s the actual copy of the original proposed resolution.

Proposal 2

tl;dr:

This initiative, otherwise known as “Promote the Vote,” was introduced by a coalition of Michigan voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and the American Federation of Teachers. The overarching idea: Make it easier for Michiganders to vote while protecting voting from outside influence, by locking some of our current voting rights and rules into the state’s Constitution.

Proposal 3

tl;dr:

This proposal, otherwise known as “Reproductive Freedom for All,” garnered more signatures than any amendment initiative in Michigan’s history.

A majority vote in November would add an amendment into the state Constitution guaranteeing the right to reproductive freedom in Michigan. Those changes would take effect 45 days later—by late December—and would be immune from any amendments from lawmakers. Only a vote of the people can change the Constitution.

“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.” Notably, the state would still be able to regulate abortion after fetal viability. 

The amendment would also prevent the state from banning abortion to protect the life or physical or mental health of the mother. Healthcare professionals would be tasked with deciding if those criteria have been met. Polls show a majority of Michiganders support this amendment. 

What about everything else?

Several voter-initiated ballot initiatives failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot this November, including a proposal to limit interest rates on payday loans and a Betsy DeVos-funded petition that seeks to divert taxpayer funding away from public schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a briefing at the Department of Education building in Washington on July 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The organizers behind the failed initiatives can still submit signatures to the State Legislature this year. And because of a rare loophole in the state Constitution, the current Republican majority could effectively force changes into law by a simple majority vote, with no risk of being vetoed by the governor.

Organizers of the DeVos-funded effort have publicly said that they plan to exploit that quirk in the state constitution, and submitted a batch of late-arriving signatures for review in August. The state Bureau of Elections is not required to vet those signatures until after the election—at which point the measure could be adopted into law, especially if Republicans retain control.