Corrected: AG opinion on ballot initiative law stands for now*

    Updated and corrected on 9/27/19 to accurately reflect the stipulated order. 

    Judge Cynthia Stephens with the state Court of Claims on Wednesday evening signed a stipulated order in League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Benson.*

    The order agreed to by attorneys for both parties said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will continue to administer a law on ballot initiatives in conformity with a May opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel, “pending an order from an appellate court.”*

    Nessel declares Lame Duck law capping ballot signatures unconstitutional

    The case* involves House Bill 6595, now Public Act 608, passed during last year’s Lame Duck session. The law stipulates that no more than 15% of signatures for ballot drives in Michigan can come from a single congressional district. 

    Jocelyn Benson (left) and Dana Nessel (right)

    Nessel’s May opinion declared several parts of the Republican-led law unconstitutional, including the 15% provision. Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, has applauded Nessel’s opinion. 

    Voters Not Politicians, the group that last year successfully pushed the ballot initiative for an independent redistricting commission, also applauded Stephens’ order. 

    “We are pleased the state will continue to administer PA 608 consistent with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s opinion that found large portions of the Act unconstitutional,” Jamie Lyons-Eddy, campaigns and programs director for Voters Not Politicians, said in a statement. 

    “We applaud the League of Women Voters of Michigan for leading the challenge to the Act’s provisions that would severely burdened [sic] citizens groups by, among other things, restricting the number of petition signatures that could be collected in any one congressional district,” said Lyons-Eddy. “Voters Not Politicians will continue to work with our partners to protect the essential right of Michiganders under our state constitution to improve our democracy through voter-initiated reforms.

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.


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