The Michigan Bureau of Elections (BOE) released a report last week alleging that a petition drive organized by the Fair and Equal Michigan campaign to put an anti-LGBTQ discrimintation issue on the ballot has fallen short on required signatures.
The ballot issue would give voters the opportunity to amend the 1974 Elliott-Larsen Civil Right Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The BOE determined that a random sampling of 502 signatures included only 337 valid signatures, falling short by 62. These are the figures the BOE used to project that fewer than 300,000 of the 483,000 signatures submitted by Fair and Equal Michigan are valid, effectively delivering a loss to Fair and Equal Michigan and petition signers.
Fair and Equal Michigan is not buying it.
“The Bureau of Elections threw out thousands of signatures that are valid and we will fight for every valid signature so no voters are disenfranchised,” said campaign spokesperson Josh Hovey in a statement.
“The Department of State has failed to issue rules as mandated by the Legislature since 2005 to establish standards for determining the validity of petition signatures. For this reason, any determination made by the Department staff is inconsistent with the requirements of Michigan’s election law,” Hovey added.
The campaign sent a letter to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on May 19 asking that she issue rules for the certification of initiative petitions as required by state law.
“Today’s announcement makes clear that Secretary Benson made no effort to respond to our request or to follow the law established by the Michigan legislature,” Hovey said.
Fair and Equal Michigan President Trevor Thomas also expressed his dismay at the BOE claims.
“We didn’t fall short as our statement noted,” Thomas told Pride Source. “We were given only 16 business hours to mount a formal response to the state. We have five firms working through the nights, and that is where our time is focused. All LGBTQ Michiganders should be furious for how the Secretary of State has screwed this up. Our legal team in just a few hours found 100-plus errors.”
The Board of State Canvassers will meet Tuesday, July 13 to consider whether to certify the ballot initiative. Fair and Equal Michigan has until that date to provide a detailed response to the Bureau of Elections’ report. The campaign has promised to release an updated statement at that time.