DELTA TOWNSHIP, MI — Michigan’s November vote will include no legislative initiatives after the state’s top electoral commission ruled that a proposal to crack down on predatory payday loans failed to attract enough signatures.
The Board of State Canvassers voted 4-0 to accept the Bureau of Elections’ recommendation that Michiganders for Fair Lending not qualify for the vote. The bureau’s sample review of the nearly 400,000 signatures submitted estimated that only 274,668 were valid, meaning the initiative fell short by about 72,000.
“This is not a close decision,” said Andrea Hansen, a lawyer for the opposition group Safe Lending Michigan.
Fair Lending was the only one of 10 legislative initiatives to submit signatures before the June 1 deadline, and said they were satisfied with the accuracy of their petition documents through an internal quality control process.
The Bureau of Elections’ line-by-line verification of a representative sample of about 500 signatures found that more than 1 in 5 were invalid, the most common reason being that the person was not registered as a voter in the correct jurisdiction.
A challenge by Safe Lending Michigan also invalidated some signatures. Fair Lending challenged about 1,400 rejected signatures and won about 300, Bureau director Jonathan Brater said, but it wasn’t enough to close the difference.
“Even if all the signatures that they argued should be reinserted were counted,” Brater said, “it wouldn’t affect the projection here in terms of validity just because they ended up being significantly short.”
No one from Fair Lending showed up Thursday to further advocate. The initiative would have prevented payday lenders from charging predatory interest rates and trying to give people access to small loans, rather than being trapped by the lenders.
Thursday’s meeting was the first for newly appointed Republican recruiter Richard Houskamp. The board consists of two Republicans and two Democrats, nominated by their political parties and appointed by the governor.
Although there are no legislative initiatives to vote in November, two proposed constitutional amendments are still alive after signatures were submitted for review last week. Petitions for abortion rights and increased voting rights have each cleared the minimum number of signatures in the hundreds of thousands.
The recruiters’ next meeting is scheduled for August 19, when members will vote on confirming the results of the August 2 Michigan primary.
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