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Ballot Initiatives

For more detail on specific initiatives, click below.

  1. Repeal PERA

  2. End collective bargaining for state employees

  3. Right-to-work

About Ballot Initiatives

There are 3 kinds of citizen-initiated legislative actions:

  1. an initiative to create or amend legislation

  2. an initiative to amend the constitution

  3. a referendum to repeal legislation

Rules for Initiative Petitions

Number of signatures. For a initiative to create or amend legislation, the number of petition signatures required is eight percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected. For an initiative to amend the constitution, ten percent is required. For legislative initiatives appearing on the 2012 ballot, the  number of signatures required is 258,088. For an initiative to amend the constitution, the number required is 322,609.

Circulation period. For initiatives of both types, petition signatures must be collected over a period not to exceed 180 days (a little less than 6 months), ending with the filing of the petition. Election law states that "It shall be rebuttably presumed that the signature on a petition that proposes an amendment to the constitution or is to initiate legislation, is stale and void if it was made more than 180 days before the petition was filed with the office of the secretary of state."

Deadline for submission. For a legislative initiative, petitions must be filed with the Secretary of State at least 160 days before the election at which the proposed law is to be voted upon. For an initiative to amend the constitution, petitions must be filed at least 120 days before the election.

Rejection by legislature. If the Board of State Canvassers determines that the petition to create or amend legislation contains the required number of valid signatures, the state legislature has 40 session days enact the proposal. If the legislature does not do so, the proposal is placed on the ballot at the next general election. The legislature may reject the proposal and propose a different measure on the same subject. In that case, both measures will appear on the ballot at the next general election. The foregoing does not apply to petitions to amend the Constitution. If the Board of Canvassers determines that a petition to amend the Constitution contains the required number of valid signatures, it is placed on the ballot.

Effective date. Article XII, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution says of constitutional amendments:

If the proposed amendment is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, it shall become part of the constitution, and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the constitution at the end of 45 days after the date of the election at which it was approved.

Article II, Section 9 says of legislative initiatives:

Any law submitted to the people by either initiative or referendum petition and approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon at any election shall take effect 10 days after the date of the official declaration of the vote.

Rules for Referendums (Referenda?)

Number of signatures. Five percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected.

Circulation period. A referendum petition can be circulated from the date the law involved is enacted by the legislature until 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted.

Deadline for submission. 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted.

Ballot Question Committee

Michiganís campaign finance law requires any group that receives contributions or makes expenditures to influence voters for or against the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question to form and register a committee. If the committee takes in or spends more than $500, campaign statements reporting those contributions and expenditures must be filed. Our summary of the reporting requirements is here. The official Ballot Question Committee Manual is on the Secretary of State's website.

Sources

Initiatives to create or amend legislation and referendums are addressed in Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution. Initiatives to amend the Constitution are addressed in Article XII, Section 2.

Michiganís Campaign Finance Act, P.A. 388 of 1976 is on the Michigan Legislature's website.

More information can be found in these documents on the Secretary of State's website:

Initiative and Referendum Petitions

Initiatives and Referendums under the 1963 Michigan Constitution (a history)

Ballot Question Committee Manual