House Democrats Offer Package to Reform Petition Circulation

Seven-bill package would create greater accountability for signature gatherers
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LANSING — State Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) is part of a group of representatives who have introduced 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.

“The petition process is enshrined in the First Amendment as one of the few ways citizens can take a hands-on approach to affect change with government,” Love said. “We need to treat this issue with the same seriousness as other government functions and ensure that it remains honest, transparent and accountable.” 

Current statute does not treat manipulative tactics for signature gathering as criminal, allowing false information in 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. Kevin 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 prior to the day of filing (Introduced by Rep. Jeremy Moss)
  • Prohibiting the hiring of a signature gatherer already convicted of crimes related to election or petition fraud and forgery (Introduced by Rep. Moss)
  • Allowing only the first petition signature to be counted if someone signs the same petition more than once (Introduced by Rep. Christine Greig)
  • Requiring entities paying petition circulators to register with the state and keep a log of all paid petition circulators (Introduced by Rep. Sheldon Neeley)

“When people lend their name to a petition drive, they should not only get the correct information, but feel confident about what there’re signing,” Love said. “Trust in government is at an all-time low, and these bills will add much-needed trust to the petition process.”