Signatures for Marijuana ballot fall short in Michigan

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on June 10, 2016.

The elections bureau of Michigan says a ballot drive to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the state -- ‘MI Legalize’ falls short of at least 106,000 signatures to qualify for a statewide vote, which will be occurred this November.

The bureau rejected many of the signatures because they were gathered outside a 180-day window for collecting names of registered voters. The bureau’s recommendation will be voted on Thursday by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.

Last week, the activist-led group submitted an estimated 354,000 signatures, more than the 252,523 required to make the ballot, but the bureau said only 146,413 were collected within 180 days of the filing. However, the new state law had treated older signatures as “stale and void.”

Notably, Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed a new law solidifying the 180-day collection window on petition drives for initiated legislation or constitutional amendments, eliminating the option for petition groups to attempt rehabilitation of older signatures.

The advocates of marijuana asked election officials to update the policy by allowing it to verify registration status using the state’s Qualified Voter File database, a proposition the Board of Canvassers considered but did not approve.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee says 137,000 of its signatures are still valid despite being older than 180 days. MI Legalize will file suit against the 180-day rule as unconstitutional, as well as pressing for modern computerized methods to validate older signatures.

If the MI Legalize proposal fails to make the ballot, it would probably make the end of what was considered as the best-funded and best-organized effort to put a marijuana question on state ballots this year.

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