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Politics & Government

Board of State Canvassers approves summary language for National Popular Vote ballot initiative

people signing petitions
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The National Popular Vote ballot initiative would enter Michigan into a multi-state compact, and would send the state's electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote in a presidential election.

The Board of State Canvassers Tuesday approved summary language of a petition that would change Michigan’s electoral college selection process.

The ballot initiative would enter Michigan into a multi-state compact that would send its electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote in a presidential election. That agreement would take effect once enough states to sway an election join.

Former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer is working with the group behind the effort, Vote Yes on National Popular Vote. He said the effort has wide support from across the political spectrum.

“It’s one person one vote, it’s majority rule. It’s the way we elect every other candidate in this country except the president and this would correct that,” Brewer said. His partner in the Michigan effort is former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis.

Still, the petition isn’t without its opponents.

During Tuesday’s Board of State Canvasser’s meeting, several attendees spoke against it. Meanwhile, earlier this month, several Republican state lawmakers signed a letter against the petition. They claimed it would disenfranchise Michigan voters.

Brewer said he gets that the petition has its critics.

“That’s why we have the initiative process in Michigan. When you have a legislature, which is hostile and won’t adopt a good idea, you can take it to the people and that’s what we’re doing,” Brewer said.

Tuesday’s meeting was less about the merits of the petition and more about the 100-word summary the Board of State Canvassers was there to vote on. After nearly 2 1/2 hours of discussion, that passed by a 3-1 vote.

Board chair Norman Shinkle said he voted “no” for two reasons.

“It’s going to provide that if someone wins Michigan is President, our electors may have to vote against them. And that should’ve been in the summary. And number two, that we’re subject to laws of every secretary of state in the country,” Shinkle said.

So far, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have passed national popular vote laws. That’s for a combined 195 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency.

Though Vote Yes on National Popular Vote doesn’t need board approval to begin its signature gathering process, it’s a step toward shielding it from potential future lawsuit on the basis that the language was misleading.

Group leadership said it would wait to begin canvassing until the board can meet again to certify the petition form itself at a future meeting.

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