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Board of State Canvassers welcomes new member, denies petition

Board of State Canvassers 20220721.png
Michigan Department of State
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers meets on July 21, 2022.

A petition to cap service fees on payday loans is officially off the November ballot.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers denied the petition certification Thursday after hearing that the campaign failed to collect enough valid signatures to go before voters.

Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater said the group had initially sued to count some of the signatures deemed invalid during a review.

“Even if all of the signatures that they argued should be put back in were counted, it wouldn’t affect the projection here in terms of the validity just because they ended up being short by a considerable margin,” Brater told the board.

The campaign did not contest the final conclusions from the Bureau of Elections. Earlier this week, it said it will now focus on getting its proposal taken up in the state Legislature.

The board also heard an update on where two proposed constitutional amendments stand. One would protect abortion access while the other aims to expand voting access. Supporters of each say they've turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Deciding whether the campaigns turned in enough valid signatures involves first looking through submitted sheets for any obvious errors.

Then elections staff numbers them and finds a random sample to inspect deeper — and give opponents a chance to challenge.

Brater said he hopes that will happen for both campaigns in the next couple of weeks.

“The total number of signatures between both of those is about a million and a half so it’s a lot of signatures and sheets to go through,” he said.

The Board of State Canvassers will ultimately decide if the proposed amendments qualify for the ballot at a meeting scheduled for August 31.

Before that, the board plans to meet on August 15 to certify the results of the upcoming primary election.

That will be the second time the board meets under new chair Tony Daunt. He succeeded former chair Norm Shinkle when Shinkle stepped down last month to campaign for the state House of Representatives.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed Grand Rapids businessman Rich Houskamp, a Republican, to fill the vacant spot left by Shinkle, also a Republican, on the board earlier this week.

Thursday was Houskamp's first time as part of the group.

He said he hopes to bring unity to its meetings — which have become heated at times.

“I just really truly believe that we have to get back to — we have to get back to a viewpoint where people can be in opposite parties, but they also can work together and they can work together for a common goal, for a common good. That to me is what the country is founded on,” Houskamp said.

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