It’s official: Abortion, voting rights proposals will be on Michigan’s Nov. ballot

Abortion rights protest in Anna Arbor, May 14, 2022 | Angela Demas

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

The two Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers who voted against certifying the Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) and Promote the Vote (PTV) ballot proposals insisted Friday morning there was “nothing partisan” about their decision. Moments later, they followed a Michigan Supreme Court order to certify the proposals.

With the final certification, which received unanimous support from the board this time, the two proposals will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. The board made it in just the nick of time, certifying the proposals with only hours to spare for the county clerks’ deadline to certify general election ballots at 5 p.m. Friday.

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court ruled voters should get the chance to decide at the voting booth if the proposals should be included as amendments in the state Constitution. 

The board deadlocked on that decision last week, with the two Republicans, Richard Houskamp and Tony Daunt, rejecting the proposals, citing a spacing error that squished together some words in the RFFA proposal language and a challenge against PTV that argued the language does not clearly spell out what changes it would make to the Michigan Constitution.

“I know the press has mentioned the word partisan an awful lot, and I get that. But I want everybody here to understand there was nothing partisan at all in the conversation we had last week. There was nothing partisan at all in the questions that were asked or the clarifications,” said Houskamp. 

He said the board would have “raised that same process no matter what proposal was in front of us, I hope.” The Promote the Vote 2022 coalition announces during a Lansing press conference that it has filed nearly 670,000 signatures, July 11, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

The Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) coalition, which aims to amend the state Constitution to ensure Michiganders’ right to make and carry out decisions relating to pregnancy, including abortion, birth control, prenatal care and childbirth, submitted in July a record-breaking 730,000 signatures to get on the ballot, which analysts have said bodes well for the measure. 

“They read it. They understood it. They signed their name to it. They made no mistakes or errors and they don’t need government officials telling them otherwise,” said RFFA attorney Steve Liedel. “Each one of them had put their pen to petition paper to amend our constitution and declare that they want to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in Michigan. Their overwhelming message is that a proposed constitutional amendment is needed to ensure that Michigan women have the freedom to make highly personal decisions about abortion themselves, instead of having politicians decide for them.”

Promote the Vote, which aims to amend the state Constitution to allow nine days of early voting, allow voters to register absentee for all future elections, require more ballot drop boxes and more, gathered more than 664,000 signatures in July.

Chris Trebilcock, an attorney representing Promote the Vote, said the process was “painful, but the process worked.”

“For that, we are very thankful. When we were here a week ago, Chair Daunt and Mr. Houskamp, you raised a number of questions and asked for clarity. And the Supreme Court, by a bipartisan and clear majority of the Supreme Court, has now provided that clarity to you. And I think your job duties and fulfillment of your oath is clear,” Trebilcock said. 

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