Something needs to be done to limit the number of ballot proposals on Election Day in Michigan, and the exorbitant amount of money spent to convince voters to approve or defeat them.
Six state ballot proposals crowded the Nov. 6 ballot and they were all voted down, and rightly so — with the exception of Proposal 1, which would have allowed emergency managers to take over municipalities and school districts in very deep financial trouble.
Nearly $93 million was spent in support or opposition to these proposals.
Besides being a gigantic waste of money, there’s always the danger of a bad proposal earning approval by voters due to false and misleading information used in overboard advertising campaigns. Some of this year’s proposals actually sounded like good ideas until you really checked them out.
So, how do these proposals get on the ballot? It’s not as easy as one might think. There were originally 13 issues that attempted to get on the ballot this fall.
First, organizations or individuals have to collect 322,000 valid registered voter signatures on their petitions.
Some use paid circulators, paying a bounty per signature, to gather signatures in the required 180 days. Many question this method, arguing that the petitions should be circulated by volunteers. We also question this since many paid circulators care little about the proposals they push.
The billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner spent a couple million dollars to pay the circulators and then another $50,000 or so for legal fees, and it was a done deal to get his proposal on the ballot.
There are 24 states that allow ballot initiatives, and Michigan has one of the least restrictive lists of requirements.
It is time for Michigan to come up with some tougher guidelines when it comes to ballot proposals.
We also encourage voters to research initiatives before signing petitions. What might sound good from the mouths of the circulators — especially paid ones — might not be the real deal.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.