Michigan Rate Cap Initiative Fails to Make Ballot

Jul 25, 2022Federal Regulation, News

Last week, Michigan’s Board of Canvassers declined to certify a proposal to cap interest rates on certain loans that campaign organizers hoped to put on the Michigan ballot in November. While the group organizing the proposal, Michiganders for Fair Lending, said they collected more than 575,000 petition signatures and submitted 405,625 to Michigan’s Secretary of State, a review by the Bureau of Elections estimated that only 274,668 signatures were valid.

That was far short of the required 340,047 signatures the campaign needed to submit in order to put the question before voters in November.

The proposal would have barred lenders from charging interest or fees that exceed 36 percent per year, and was the only one to meet the deadline to make the ballot, even though it ultimately failed.

An initial face review of the petition sheets removed more than 2,700 sheets comprising more than 9,000 signatures for a variety of reasons, according to a Bureau of Elections staff report. Those include the sheet being torn, mutilated, or damaged; missing information in the circulator certificate, the failure of an out-of-state circulator to check a box accepting Michigan’s jurisdiction, or a failure to identify whether the circulator was paid or unpaid.

After the face review, staff randomly select a sample of approximately 500 signatures, each of which is examined to confirm that the signer is registered to vote in Michigan, that the signature matches the one contained in the Qualified Voter File, and that the entry does not contain another disqualifying error. This is used to tally the number of signatures that are valid and invalid.  

Staff then use a number of other methodologies to determine whether the petition meets the number of signatures to recommend accepting it for the ballot, whether it falls short, or whether a larger random sample needs to be pulled to make a final decision.

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