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What Are Michigan Ballot Measures and Why They Are Important

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Sammy Garza

Central Votes SGA Representative

If you voted by mail in the 2020 Presidential Election, you would have seen two ballot measures, or proposals, on the ballot. One ballot measure illustrates changes to two key Michigan conservation funds, and the other measure talked about if a warrant should be required to search an individual's electronic data. These ballot measures are proposed laws that ordinary citizens created to implement changes in Michigan without politicians getting in the way. When a citizen wants to implement a law, remove a current law, or amend a law, in Michigan, they must file their purpose measure with the Secretary of State. Then, they have the option to submit a draft petition to the Board of State Canvassers for approval or rejection. It is not required for a citizen to take this step; however, it is highly recommended as any formatting defects can invalidate a petition. After gaining approval from the Board of State Canvassers, the individual can start collecting signatures from the general public in Michigan. The petition, proposal, needs to gather a set of signatures determined by the number of votes cast in the last governor election. If the individual wants to initiate a constitutional amendment, 10% of votes cast in the last governor election are needed. If the individual wants to initiate a state statute, 8% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election is needed. For a veto referendum, 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election is needed. The deadline for gathering the required signatures is 180 days for an initiated statute or constitutional amendment. For veto referendums, the deadline is 90 days. If the proposed measure gathers the required signatures in the required deadline, the petition then must be approved by the Secretary of State and verified by the Bureau of Election. The Board of State Canvassers then votes to certify the measure’s signatures. If approved, the purpose measure gets sent to Michigan’s Legislature to approve the proposal or not. If approved, the proposal goes into law, if rejected, the proposal is placed in the next general election ballot.

Ballot measures, or proposal measures, are superpowers ordinary citizens can use to implement change in Michigan without politicians able to stop them. For example, in 2018, a ballot measure to allow any Michigander to be able to vote by mail was placed on the ballot. Michigan’s Legislation disagreed with the measure, but could not stop it. The measure was approved by voters in the midterms of 2018 by two-thirds of voters. If Michigan politicians pass a law that the public disagrees with, citizens can purpose a veto referendum to reject the law. These superpowers are crucial to democracy and understanding what they are is crucial. The next time you see a purposed measure on the ballot, research the proposal and decided whether you agree with it or not. Remember, it is not politicians asking for a specific change, it is ordinary citizens.

Sammy Garza

Central Votes SGA Representative


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