DELTA TOWNSHIP, MI – Michigan’s November ballot will not include any legislative initiatives after the state’s Superior Election Commission ruled that a proposal to crack down on predatory payday lending failed to gain enough signatures .
The Board of State Solicitors voted 4-0 to accept the Board of Elections’ recommendation that Michiganders for Fair Lending do not qualify for the ballot. The Bureau’s sample review of the nearly 400,000 signatures submitted found that only 274,668 were valid, meaning the initiative missed about 72,000 signatures.
“It’s not a close call,” said Andrea Hansen, an attorney for the opposition group Safe Lending Michigan.
Fair Lending was the only one of 10 legislative initiative petitions to submit signatures by the June 1 deadline and said it was confident in the accuracy of its petition materials due to an internal quality control process.
Line-by-line review by the Elections Office of a representative sample of approximately 500 signatures revealed that more than 1 in 5 were invalid, the most common reason being that the person was not registered to vote in the good jurisdiction.
A challenge from Safe Lending Michigan also invalidated some signatures. Fair Lending challenged about 1,400 rejected signatures and succeeded about 300, Bureau Director Jonathan Brater said, but that wouldn’t have been enough to make up the difference.
“Even if all the signatures they think should be turned over were counted,” Brater said, “it wouldn’t affect the projection here in terms of validity, just because they ended up being short by a considerable margin. .”
No one from Fair Lending appeared Thursday to plead further. The initiative would have prevented payday lenders from charging predatory interest rates, attempting to give people access to small loans instead of trapping them in debt.
Thursday’s meeting was the first for newly appointed Republican canvasser Richard Houskamp. The Council consists of two Republicans and two Democrats, nominated by their political parties and appointed by the Governor.
Although no legislative initiative is on the ballot in November, two proposed constitutional amendments are still in effect after submitting signatures for consideration last week. Petitions for abortion rights and increased access to voting have each achieved the minimum number of signatures in the hundreds of thousands.
The canvassers are then due to meet on Aug. 19, when members decide whether to certify the results of Michigan’s Aug. 2 primary election.
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