LANSING — Organizers of Michigan’s ballot campaigns to protect abortion rights and make it easier to vote are confident they’ve garnered more than enough petition signatures to qualify proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot.
The groups plan to file their signatures on Monday, the deadline. If the measures are certified, voters will consider three and potentially four statewide proposals in the midterm elections in the fall.
In May, lawmakers tabled a constitutional amendment to revise term limits on the ballot. A group has turned in 405,000 signatures for legislation to restrict payday loans and is awaiting a state review of whether 340,000 – the number required for the legislation initiated – are valid.
Back to the last two proposals:
The Abortion Amendment, which abortion rights advocates launched in anticipation of the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision — which has now happened — will be one of the most closely watched ballot initiatives. from the country.
It would protect the right to abortion and other reproductive decisions in the state Constitution, negating a near-total ban that remains on the books. In May, a judge blocked enforcement of the 1931 law, which originated in an 1846 ban. Republican lawmakers, anti-abortion prosecutors and others are appealing the decision.
The Reproductive Freedom for All voting committee, which is led by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Michigan Voices, has reported an influx of volunteers since the US Supreme Court ruling was disclosed in May and published in June. Ann Arbor council member co-chair Linh Song said this week that nearly 800,000 signatures had been collected.
If the group submits so many as a result of a search for duplicates and other potentially invalid signatures, it would be a state record. About 425,000 valid signatures are needed for a constitutional amendment.
The measure would declare a right to reproductive freedom, including to “make and enforce decisions on all matters relating to pregnancy”. The government could regulate abortions after fetal viability, which is around 23 or 24 weeks, if there were exceptions for the woman’s health. However, it cannot prosecute or penalize women who have abortions or the doctors and others who assist them.
The 1931 law currently pending makes it a crime to perform an abortion.
Abortion advocates will likely criticize the new proposal as too broad, saying it would allow unregulated late-term abortions without legislative action.
Reproductive Freedom for All had raised $1.4 million in April, mostly from the ACLU.
“The momentum for this ballot measure and the strength of our statewide volunteer network is only growing,” said Ashlea Phenicie, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. She declined to confirm whether nearly 800,000 signatures had been collected, saying a final number would be shared on Monday after a “rigorous verification process”.
The Voting Amendment, sponsored by Promote the Vote, will also receive national attention.
This would create at least nine days of early in-person voting, allow all voters to request mail-in voting for future elections, and require prepaid postage on return envelopes. One ballot box would be required in each municipality, including one for every 15,000 inhabitants. A system for tracking ballots submitted would be created.
The measure would preserve the right of voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity and to vote if they do not have photo identification. It would prohibit legislative or other attempts to “unreasonably” burden the franchise and enshrine the duties of the state canvassing committee to certify results after then-President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempts to to cancel the 2020 elections.
The amendment was launched after Republicans began circulating petitions for an anti-veto bill. Organizers of that campaign, who want the GOP-led Legislature to adopt their initiative rather than let it go to a public vote, missed a deadline for the November ballot. But the proposal could ultimately go to lawmakers if Secure MI Vote makes petitions.
It would require voters without ID to verify their identity within six days of an election for their vote to count and require people to provide additional information such as a driver’s license number on mail-in ballot applications. . The initiative would also ban the use of private donations to administer elections and create a $3 million fund to waive ID fees for low-income residents.
The constitutional amendment, if approved, would effectively take precedence if lawmakers pass the initiated bill.
Promote the Vote had raised nearly $3.4 million in May, including $1.6 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington, DC-based group supported by anonymous left-leaning donors. The other top donors are Oklahoma billionaire philanthropist Lynn Schusterman ($500,000), California physician and philanthropist Karla Jurvetson ($260,000) and New York physician and philanthropist Lisa Minsky-Primus.
Promote the Vote executive director Micheal Davis said the group collected “more than enough” signatures to “ensure that all of us in Michigan can vote without fear or threats of intimidation or harassment, no matter where we live, what we look like or what political party or candidate we prefer.”