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SOS 20,000 short - Michigan's latest tax revolt not on ballot!

9. September 2006 • Murph
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Yesterday, the Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to reject the “Stop Overspending” petition from the November ballot. SOS fell approximately 20,000 valid signatures short of the needed 317,000, despite handing in more than 500,000.

Defend Michigan, the coalition opposed to the SOS measure, are breathing a sigh of relief; they had said the measure would have “devastating effects on the ability of state and local government to provide essential services” by preventing both the creation of new tax levies and user fees or increases in existing ones by local entities.

SOS’s backers have appealed the Board of Canvassers’ decision. Over 100,000 duplicate signatures appeared on the petition, and the Board rejected all copies of these signatures, rather than keeping one and rejecting only those past the first. While the Board claims that this is in keeping with a 1940 Michigan Supreme Court decision, and is intended to discourage reckless petition drives, SOS feels that there is no statutory requirement to reject all copies.

  1. Hooray!

       —David Cahill    Sep. 10 '06 - 12:02AM    #
  2. Not so fast ! The sponsors of the measure may still take it to court and win. The Affirmative action proposal is a recent example.

    I don’t know how the MCR7.215(j) might work, if the Board used a 1940 Michigan Supreme Court decision, you might be surprised to find out that Michigan Court of Appeals is not bound by stare decisis for cases decided before November 1, 1990:

    MCR 7.215(J)(1) Precedential Effect of Published Decisions. A panel of the Court of Appeals must follow the rule of law established by a prior published decision of the Court of Appeals issued on or after November 1, 1990, that has not been reversed or modified by the Supreme Court, or by a special panel of the Court of Appeals as provided in this rule.

    REMEMBER the on or after November 1, 1990.


       —Srini    Sep. 10 '06 - 03:36AM    #
  3. I don’t see how that applies. First, it talks about COA decisions published before 1990. The 1940 decision was by the Michigan Supreme Court, not the Court of Appeals. So whatever rules applies to COA rulings has nothing to do with a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, even if it dates back to 1940.

    Normally, a Court of Appeals will defer to a Michigan Supreme Court ruling unless the decision is clearly contrary to current case law, there’s been some change in legislation that makes the previous decision contrary to the law or the Court decides that it’s going to issue a decision contrary to the previous decision to force the Michigan Supreme Court to revisit the decision. I very much doubt that a COA will do that in this case. They realize that the Michigan Supreme Court will likely have final say on this so there’s no reason to force the issue. Considering that you can get petitions thrown out for not using the correct form, I very much doubt that the courts are going to have a problem rejecting a petition where there was numerous documented duplicates and unregistered voters signing. Sounds like the big dollar petition collecting firm wasn’t worth the money that they were paid.

       —John Q.    Sep. 11 '06 - 02:05AM    #
  4. The duplicates-don’t-count-at-all rule has been in use in Michigan for a very long time. Had the rule not existed, we would probably have seen different outcomes on some closely contested petition drives in the past.

    My sense is that Michigan courts have been tightening petition standards over the years, not loosening them.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Sep. 11 '06 - 05:06AM    #
  5. Courts ruled in favor of Nader during 2004 elecions (not exactly duplicate but another issue regarding petition signatures). These are Michigan Courts – Law, Constitution and precedence don’t apply !

       —Srini    Sep. 11 '06 - 08:07AM    #
  6. This article implies that Nader got on the ballot in Michigan despite any court rulings:

       —John Q.    Sep. 11 '06 - 07:01PM    #
  7. Supreme court keeps the measure off the november ballot. Anyway this is just the beginning, I hope the SOS group puts together another petition for the next election and with enough time collects the needed signatures.

    Quoting the AP report – “Stop Overspending said the policy is unfair because many people inadvertently signed twice. The group held a news conference Thursday to complain that an employee of ACORN, a public interest group that opposes the issue, had signed the Stop Overspending petition 14 times”.

    I hope SOS is able to take it to federal court and bring in charges of fraud and disruption of election process against that employee.

    If this kind of fraud is allowed by Federal courts, then they should have let the GOP official go too in the NH case.


       —Srini    Sep. 15 '06 - 02:37AM    #
  8. Let’s for the sake of argument accept that one person signed it 14 times. I’ll leave it to Larry to tell us whether that’s a crime or not. But the courts didn’t keep the ballot proposal off the ballot because of one person. They kept it off because there were many duplicate signatures, signatures by people not even registered in Michigan and other flaws. Is the State supposed to overlook these fraudulent petitions because SOS found one person who signed multiple times?

       —John Q.    Sep. 15 '06 - 08:16AM    #