Weekly Political Roundup
5:19 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Experts discuss font size during Michigan Supreme Court hearing

The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on whether a referendum on Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law, should appear on the November ballot. 

As you might remember the Board of State Canvassers was asked to determine whether the petitions were printed in the correct font size. But they deadlocked and the issue went to the Michigan Court Appeals, which made a confusing ruling about precedent. And so now we’re now at the Supreme Court.

“Stand Up for Democracy, which is the organization that supports this ballot initiative to repeal PA 4, claims that their font size meets the standard, which has to be 14 point font,” said Susan Demas, a political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

On the other side of the argument, the group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility argues the font size doesn’t meet the standard. “And so there were a lot of technical discussions going on with people showing blowups of font sizes and consulting with experts on that very specific issue,” Demas said.

Ken Sikkema is Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. He thinks the argument about the font size being too small is weak. “If the Supreme Court is going to keep this off the ballot because of this, they are going to need a very, very good explanation of why they arrived at that decision,” he said.

According to the law, font size does matter. But Sikkema says, “The law really refers to printer’s blocks, that for all practical purposes are not used any more, we use computers.”

Sikkema thinks there might be a solution to the font size confusion. “I think the court could help us down the road by simply directing the Legislature to clarify how to look at font size.”

Demas expects the Michigan Supreme Court will rule on this matter in the next week.