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Michigan judge strikes down state's ballot drive law

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Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 16:50:13-04

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan judge has struck down a new requirement that makes it harder to initiate ballot drives by limiting the number of signatures that can be counted from a single congressional district.

Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled Friday, declaring that the plain language of Michigan's constitution does not support the imposition of a geographic requirement.

Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel previously said the Republican-sponsored law passed in last year's lame-duck session is unconstitutional. Election officials are not enforcing the change for now, but appellate courts will have the final say.

The law says no more than 15% of petition signatures can be counted from any one of the state's 14 congressional districts.

A lawsuit was filed in May by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and others.

Voters not Politicians, a nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to strengthen democracy by engaging people across Michigan in effective citizen action, also released a state on the ruling:

"We are pleased with today’s Court of Claims decision that strikes down as unconstitutional large portions of Public Act 608. The Court’s opinion affirms the fact that, as our state Constitution states, “All political power is inherent in the people,” and the people’s reserved right to petition our government by engaging in the initiative or referendum process cannot be limited, impaired, or hindered, as the Legislature sought to do through PA 608. We thank the League of Women Voters of Michigan and their partners for bringing this lawsuit to protect the rights of Michiganders to engage in direct democracy."

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