November 3rd, 2015 — A Slow Day at the Polling Place. Not so Next Year — Learn What to Expect
(Updated Nov. 29, 2016: Below is the 2015 guide. However, it is worth noting that not one of the possible ballot proposals made it on the Nov. 2016 ballot — primarily due to legislative actions intended to block direct democracy)
With just a few short days remaining before the November 3rd election, there seems to be a dearth of media attention over what to expect on ballots statewide. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not at all nefarious. It may be hard to believe, especially with all the stateside and national political wrangling, but many precincts will not be holding an election at all because there’s nothing to be decided.
View it as a blessed relief in terms of the absence of political signs, mailers, and robocalls — 2015 trick-or-treaters are not at risk of impaling themselves on the legions of campaign yard signs typical of this time of year.
There are no statewide ballot proposals this year, but not so next year — we forecast a bumper crop, possibly rivaling the packed ballot of 2012. Voters need not despair, 2015 offers a number of local issues to draw them to their polling places. Numerous races, proposals, and millages are up for decision in many communities. To learn if you have any boxes to check in your locale, find a list of precincts with ballot items by clicking HERE. Peruse your sample ballot information HERE. Determine if you’re registered to vote and locate your polling place HERE.
Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license.
Next Year Brings on the Crazy– 2016 Overview
In addition to the presidential election (who knew?) and various local races, Michigan voters must weigh-in on all 110 seats of its House of Representatives (as it does, rain or shine, every two years), additionally two Republican-held Michigan Supreme Court seats are up for grabs, plus we can expect the predictable number of special elections…then there’s the daunting list of potential proposals — the cloak and dagger section of the ballot.
Supreme Court Flip?
Michigan’s high court is currently enjoying a 5-2 conservative majority, yet with two of the right-leaning seats up for popular vote next year, there remains a theoretical chance to flip the court. Justices’ Robert Viviano and Joan Larsen must defend their seats. The Gov. Snyder appointees are serving out the terms of convicted felon Diane Hathaway and the recently retired Mary Beth Kelly — a Democrat and a Republican. Larsen, who took Kelly’s seat, is required to run in 2016 even though the term would have expired in 2018.
Supreme Court trivia: All five Republican Justices were initially gubernatorial appointees, but both Democrats came to office through election, as was also the case with Hathaway, for whom orange really is the new black, after being found guilty of felony mortgage fraud. When elected in 2008, she came from behind to defeat incumbent Republican Clifford Taylor — a victory credited largely to a negative ad of dubious veracity put out by Democrats. Fact Check.org discredited a portion of its content and there were cries for reform at the time.
Ballot Proposal Mania — 2016
Updated 10-30-15: The petition drive to repeal Michigan’s Prevailing Minimum Wage law has decided to relaunch a new effort, and to scrap the previous submission that was under fierce scrutiny. Citing problems with the process of both the gathering and validation of signatures, the group has announced they will try again. Facing costly litigation of dubious outcome, they made an economic choice. It remains to be seen if it will result in a new petition, and if they’ll get a refund from the group hired to do their work. Lost may be the necessary support in the legislature to compel lawmakers to bypass the voting process for the initiative to enact without a popular vote, as the Michigan Constitution allows. The reason behind the whole drive was to override Gov. Snyder’s opposition and veto authority.
The Secretary of State reports a number of other petition drives underway for the 2016 general election.
STOP OVERCHARGING: Proposed initiated law to enact the Fair Medical Prices for Consumers Act to prohibit a health provider from charging a higher price for medical goods or services than a price charged to other persons for the same or similar medical goods or services.
COMMITTEE TO BAN FRACKING IN MICHIGAN: Proposed initiated law to amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).
MICHIGAN CANNABIS COALITION: Proposed initiated law to create the Michigan Cannabis Control and Revenue Act.
MICHIGAN COMPREHENSIVE CANNABIS LAW REFORM COMMITTEE: Proposed initiated law to create the Michigan Marihuana Legalization, Regulation, and Economic Stimulus Act.
RAISE MICHIGAN: Proposed initiated law to create the Earned Sick Time Act.
CITIZENS FOR FAIR TAXES: Proposed initiated law to create the Corporate Fair Share of Taxes Act.
In addition to these initiated law petitions, there’s also a constitutional amendment drive in the works:
LET’S VOTE MICHIGAN: Proposed constitutional amendment to amend Art. II, §4 of the Michigan Constitution to require voting by mail.
Petition Trivia: In addition to the public petition process, lawmakers may also place items on the ballot. But here we are interested in citizen driven petitions. Since the 1963 Constitution, the people have put a number of ballot questions up for popular vote: 31 amendments, of which ten were approved; initiated laws found a 7 out of 13 success rate; referenda however are the odd duck — they are typically a challenge to an existing law, and are worded such that a “yes” vote is to retain the law, thus, the one out of ten approved by voters means just the opposite — a 90 percent rejection rate of standing law was achieved.
The voice of the people must remain powerful in Michigan. And to keep it so, the next petition drive should be one to amend the Constitution to close the loophole that allows lawmakers to enact, by fiat, veto-proof initiated laws as a way to thwart democracy. Its time has come.
To contact any of the ballot question committees find them listed HERE.