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Elections board starts work on new petition rules

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A state elections board is going to work on new rules to govern petition drives that want to get issues before the Legislature or on a ballot.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers faces a complicated situation. Last year, Republicans in the Legislature adopted a law to make it harder for petition drives to succeed. Earlier this year, Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a formal opinion. It strikes down much of what Republicans enacted. Republicans are now challenging that opinion in court.

“And we’ll see what happens,” says Julie Matuzak, a Democratic member of the board. “We’re all sort of working this out as we go.”

She says things may change along the way.

“We don’t have any control over that. But we’re trying very hard to safeguard both the right to petition and the right of voters to make their signature count,” she says.

Matuzak and other board members say petition drive organizers deserve to know the rules before they start gathering signatures. There are already at least two anti-abortion drives ramping up to start collecting names.

You can hear an interview with Board of State Canvassers member Norm Shinkle above.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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