House Democrats Offer Package to Reform Petition Circulation

Seven-bill package would create greater accountability for circulators
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

LANSING — Democratic Floor Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) joined state Reps. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), Leslie Love (D-Detroit), Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) and Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) this week in introducing a seven-bill package to reform petition circulation legislation in the state. The bills are a response to complaints across the state that a number of petition groups are using varying degrees of dishonesty when attempting to gather signatures.

 “I have personally experienced petition circulators in Farmington lying about what they were asking me to sign,” said Rep. Greig. “Civic engagement is too important to allow these types of tactics. This package will confront those who misrepresent the initiative by creating basic standards to hold dishonest circulators accountable.”

Current statute does not treat manipulative tactics for signature gathering as criminal, allowing false information during petition circulation to flourish. Elements of the seven-bill package include:

  • Holding the organization a petition circulator works for liable if the circulator makes a false or misrepresentative statement concerning the petition (Introduced by Rep. Love)

  • Prohibiting paying circulators by the signature (Introduced by Rep. Hertel)

  • Requiring circulators to wear a badge disclosing if they are paid or volunteering (Introduced by Rep. Love)

  • Authorizing a voter who has signed an initiative, referendum or recall petition to remove their name by filing a written request with county elections officials before the day of filing (Introduced by Rep. Moss)

  • Prohibiting the hiring of a signature gatherer already convicted of crimes related to election or petition fraud and forgery (Introduced by Rep. Moss)

  • Requiring entities paying petition circulators to register with the state and keep a log of all paid petition circulators (Introduced by Rep. Neeley)

  • Allowing the first petition signature to be counted if someone signs the same petition more than once (Introduced by Rep. Greig)

“The use of petitions, referendums and ballot initiatives is an important component of the democratic process, but the process must be done in a fair and honest manner,” said Rep. Moss. “We cannot continue to allow bad actors to use lies and manipulation to erode the credibility of the system for the rest of us.”