Do Your Own Petition
Having gone through the process of preparing 4 separate petitions, one to initiate legislation and 3 to amend the Constitution, we believe we are in a position to offer advice. We also offer these templates done in Microsoft Word that you can download and then add your own initiative or referendum language:
The only difference between the 3 templates is the vertical "heading" in the left margin.
By the way, the heading does not have to be printed vertically in the left margin. It can be printed horizontally at the top. The option of printing it vertically in the left margin is to save space, as stated on page 2 of this letter from the Director of Elections. At the time we prepared our petitions, we thought the heading had to be vertical. We didn't know how to print vertically in Word, so what we did is print the heading on a sheet all by itself (at the highest resolution possible), scan it, open the scanned .jpg file with Microsoft Picture Manager, crop out all but the heading, rotate it to vertical, and then insert the picture into our Word document.
For examples of actual petitions, see below. Sorry, we don't have an example of a referendum petition.
The official instructions for preparing petitions are within a document called Initiative and Referendum Petitions on the Secretary of State's website, which addresses petition drives in general. The instructions are based on Section 482 of Act 116 of 1954, Michigan Election Law. The instructions strongly suggest that after you've drafted your petition, you have it reviewed by staff at the Bureau of Elections. We did so, and made about 4 trips before we got it right. It took over a month.
Here are some areas of the instructions that confused us:
After and Before.
If you are amending the Constitution and your amendment changes or
deletes existing language, you must present your amendment first,
with language deleted
Provisions of existing constitution altered or abrogated by the proposal if adopted:
Introduction. At the top of the signature side of the petition for an amendment to the Constitution, the first item to appear is an "introduction" that specifies the provision or provisions of the State Constitution which the proposal is designed to alter, eliminate or create. If the full amendment doesn't fit on the signature side, the introduction is to be repeated on the back.
Summary. The instructions say that if the amendment doesn't fit at the top of the signature side of the petition, the introduction shall be followed by a brief synopsis of the proposal and reference shall be made to the reverse side of the sheet for the full text of the proposal. The synopsis is not repeated on the back.
When voted on. According to the letter from the Director of Elections (page 2), a statement saying when the proposal would be voted on is optional:
This proposal is to be voted on at the November 6, 2012 General Election.
Presentation of changes. We don't remember seeing this in the instructions, either, but when an amendment alters or deletes existing language, we were told to include this parenthetical statement:
(New language capitalized. Language to be deleted struck through.)
Paid for with . . . One more item not in the instructions: Any printed campaign material must include a statement telling who paid for it. We put this statement at the bottom of the signature side of each petition:
Paid for with regulated funds by the Committee to Transform Michigan, P.O. Box 80978, Lansing, MI 48908-0978
Our petition to eliminate the Senate is so lengthy that it won't entirely fit on the back. An extension of at least one page will be required. Here is what we say at the top of the signature side:
On the back, under the heading (printed horizontally this time) and just before we present the amendment, is this:
Our petition to repeal PERA was the simplest. We were not required to present the text of the statute being repealed, so there is nothing on the back, and this was all that was needed at the top of the signature side:
Our right-to-work proposal adds a new section to the Constitution. Here is what we say at the top of the signature side:
On the back, under the heading and just before we present the amendment, is this:
If you need help or have questions, call us at 517-505-2696 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.