ballot

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming nearly 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens.
michigan.gov

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming as many as 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens. David Eggert of Mlive has the story:

If you live in Detroit, I want to wish you good luck trying to wrestle with your election ballot this November.

The rest of us Michigan voters are going to be asked to decide six complex statewide ballot proposals, which is far too many. But Detroiters are going to face a total of ten proposals.

That would be ridiculous, even if this were an enlightened state like Oregon, where everyone is mailed a ballot so they have time to study the races and issues before casting an informed vote.

Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry this week about the ballot proposals that were approved, the results of the special primary in Michigan's 11th congressional district and what happens now, and the medical marijuana debate in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Ballot rulings expected Friday

"The state Supreme Court is expected to rule Friday on challenges to four questions that could go on the November ballot. The challenges focused on the wording of the proposals, and whether they fully explain how they would change the Michigan Constitution.The questions at issue would guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, allow an expansion of non-tribal casinos, require two-thirds super-majorities for the Legislature to raise taxes,  and make it harder to build a new international bridge in Detroit. Three other questions have already been approved for the ballot. The deadline to finalize the ballot is a week away," Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit police pay cuts

"The city of Detroit can move forward on cutting police officers' pay by 10 percent and implementing 12-hour work shifts. Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald lifted an injunction Thursday, allowing Detroit to impose $75 million in police cuts. City leaders say the cuts are necessary to help trim the budget deficit.
Detroit Police Officers Association President Joe Duncan filed a lawsuit to stop the pay cuts and longer work shifts. Police Chief Ralph Godbee says about 1,500 patrol officers will work the longer shifts in an effort to cut costs, while keeping more officers on city streets," Vince Duffy reports.

Mitten fight makes money

"A good-natured PR war between Michigan and Wisconsin has won a national award. Last December, Wisconsin began using a brown knitted mitten in its winter tourism campaign. That prompted an outcry from many in Michigan, who consider this the true mitten state. The two states' travel associations used the publicity to raise money to buy mittens and gloves for those in need. This week a national travel association gave both states an award for the effort. According to the association the controversy resulted in 17-milion dollar worth of free media coverage," Lindsey Smith reports.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Ballot hearings today

The state Supreme Court will hold a hearing Thursday on whether four proposals should appear on the statewide November ballot. The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on whether the proposals' wording met the requirements in the state constitution. "The proposals would guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, allow more casinos in Michigan, require super-majorities before the Legislature can increase taxes, and demand voter approval before the state could build a new international bridge to Canada. Some of the campaigns – the ones blocked from the ballot – want to see some changes in how elections decisions are made. They say a state elections board should not make determinations on whether proposals meet the requirements of the Michigan Constitution -- that’s up to the courts," Rick Pluta reports

Drought and heat makes Michigan a natural disaster area

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared the entire state of Michigan a natural disaster area because of the continuing drought and heat. Governor Rick Snyder says the declaration will help state farmers get more federal aid in dealing with crop or livestock losses.

Closure of pipeline would increase heating bills

Michigan residents might see an increase in their heating bills if a Texas company shuts down a natural gas pipeline. "Trunkline Gas Company is asking regulators for permission to abandon some 770 miles of natural gas pipeline. Consumers Energy spokesman Dan Bishop says the utility gets 60% of its natural gas supply from Trunkline. Governor Snyder, The Michigan Public Service Commission and a coalition of businesses are also asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny Trunkline's request," Rina Miller reports. The pipeline runs from the Gulf of Mexico to White Pigeon, just north of the Indiana line in southwestern Michigan.

Ballotopia. Ballotmania. Ballotpalooza: These are all nicknames given to the situation that we’re seeing right now as various groups and organizations try to get Michigan voters, come November, to amend the state's constitution. On Election Day, we could see up to six ballot proposals and a referendum on the state’s  controversial Emergency Manager law. If all of these ballot proposals are, indeed, approved this would be the most statewide ballot questions on a single election day since 1982.

Grassroots campaigns? Not so much

It's nice to think that, in our democracy, these ballot campaigns are being led by grassroots groups - regular folks - trying to change their state's law. But, that's  not the case in this election cycle. Each  of these ballot initiatives have backers - some business groups, some union groups - with deep pockets. It costs a lot of money to organize these campaignsand to get people into the field to gather signatures. In fact, that’s why we saw some ballot campaigns fizzle this summer like the group trying to get a question about marijuana legalization on the ballot.

Just Say "No"

The deadline for these ballot campaigns to submit to the state enough valid signatures - more than 320,000 -  was Monday.  And, in the midst of the petition filings,  we saw some push back against "ballotmania. A "just-say-no" to every ballot question campaign has popped up. It's a coalition of businesses that thinks the easiest way to kill everything they don’t like, especially the ballot questions dealing with unionization – these have to deal with constitutionally protecting collective bargaining rights - and a mandate that the state increase the amount of energy it gets from alternative sources to 25 percent by 2025, is blanket opposition.

Be Careful What You Wish for...

At first glance, it seems like business groups would be in favor of some of these ballot questions, like the amendment that would require super-majorities in both the state House and Senate to raise taxes. Seems simple, right? Businesses tend to not like taxes, but there is some concern in the business community that a super-majority requirement for new taxes could actually make it harder to cut taxes. That's because, typically, when the Legislature cuts or eliminates a tax, it has to come up with some replacement for that lost revenue. Even something that’s considered a net tax cut – like last year's elimination of the Michigan Business Tax or this year's tax on industrial equipment  – required the state Legislature and Governor Snyder to replace some of that revenue. If lawmakers had had to meet a higher bar for other revenue – like last year’s  controversial tax on pension income – they couldn’t have touched the business or industrial equipment tax.

If you need proof that our system is sometimes irrational, consider this: Westland, a mostly blue-collar Wayne County community of about 80,000 people, is short of cash, like most cities these days. But Westland is apparently going to have to spend $60,000 to hold an unexpected and virtually meaningless primary election on a Wednesday in September.

This is the first step in replacing Thaddeus McCotter, the congressman whose bizarre meltdown ended with his sudden resignation last week. Not to replace him for a full-term, but for just the few weeks remaining in his current one.

I hate to sound alarmist, but if all the proposals whose backers submitted signatures make it on the ballot and are approved by the voters, the result will destroy representative democracy in Michigan. Not only that, our economy will  probably be destroyed as well, and we will enter fully into the era of  government of special interests, by special interests, and for special  interests.

Michigan’s constitution is fatally flawed in one big way.  The framers thought there should be an opportunity for citizens to occasionally place a question before the people.

There’s one word you can’t use to describe Governor Rick Snyder: Uncontroversial. In less than four months Michigan’s newest governor has created loads of controversy.

The seemingly mild-mannered former business executive has rammed a tough new emergency financial manager law through the legislature. He is pushing a budget that gives businesses a big tax break and makes devastating cuts to education and social programs. Lots of people are hopping mad, and some of them are trying to do something drastic about it. A group called Michigan Citizens United is launching a campaign to remove the governor from office.

They’ve filed paperwork in Washtenaw County seeking official permission to begin a recall drive. In nine days, the county board of commissioners will have a hearing to determine if the language on the petition is clear. If it is, the group can start collecting names. If they get enough signatures, the state’s voters may go the polls November 8th and decide whether to remove the governor. If a majority voted yes, Rick Snyder would be out of a job.

His opponents have a web site. They have a facebook page, and they are gung-ho. But there are two questions we should ask:  Does this recall effort have a chance of succeeding, and -- is it a good idea?  The first question is fairly easy; the answer is a resounding no. It will be all but impossible for this or any grassroots group to get enough signatures to make this happen.

Here’s why. They would need to collect 807,000 valid signatures within ninety days. Practically, as Citizens’ United admit, they really need well over a million, since some are bound to be disqualified.

That would mean they’d have to collect more than ten thousand signatures a day. The only way they could possibly achieve that is by spending a vast amount of money to hire people to collect the signatures, and this group doesn’t have it.

Most petition efforts to get constitutional amendments on the ballot fail, unless they have heavy financial backing, and an amendment only needs about a third as many signatures.

Voter turnout map
Lani Chisnell / Michigan Radio

The Secretary of State's office has released unofficial voter turnout results for all the counties in Michigan (the State Board of Canvassers will make them official later this month).

  • The voters in Leelanau county scored the best turnout rate in the state at 61.60%
  • The voters in Cass county scored the worst turnout rate in the state at 35.74%

Here are the top 5:

Outgoing Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land had expected 52% of eligible voters to show up at the polls yesterday. The unofficial tally stands at 45% today.

The turnout results remain "unofficial" until they are certified by the Board of State Canvassers later this month.

Of the 7.28 million registered to vote, 3.3 million did so.

Photo from Jones campaign website

Michigan House Representative and current Democratic candidate for State Senate Robert Jones died this past weekend. He was 66 and being treated for esophogeal cancer, but officials at Kalamzoo's Democratic Party Headquarters say his death still came as a surprise.

Jones' death has raised several questions about the race for the State Senate seat in Michigan's 20th district (representing parts of Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties).