The ballot measure to enshrine the right to abortion in Michigan’s constitution garnered more petition signatures from ordinary voters than any measure in state history: about 750,000, well within above the state threshold.
But, from now on, the language won’t be on voters’ ballots in November, and for the oddest reason: GOP officials were unhappy with the spacing between words in the language proposed by the measure. .
Last Wednesday, when Michigan’s Council of State Solicitors met to consider the ballot measure, the council’s two Republicans voted against certifying the measure for ballot, saying it was improperly composed and that the words were mixed up incomprehensibly. Now the matter is pending in the state Supreme Court.
“You wouldn’t sign a mortgage that had that kind of error in it,” said Chairman Tony Daunt, one of two Republicans on the board, who was nominated by the state’s GOP chairwoman for the seat after Donald Trump’s near-successful effort to apply pressure. the same body to reject Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Vice President Mary Ellen Gurewitz, one of two Democrats on the council, said that in addition to the issue simply not being within the purview of the council, the text was perfectly legible.
“Although the words are compressed, I think it’s easy to read. And 700,000 people also thought it was easy to read,” she said, according to Politico. The number of valid signatures supporting the measure’s ballot placement represents more than 9% of the state’s voting-age population.
“We simply have no authority to dismiss this petition based on content challenges,” Gurewitz continued. “It’s not our responsibility.”
An attorney for the pro-choice effort, Steve Liedel, blamed a wordspace setting in Adobe InDesign for the runtime words, but told Bridge Michigan, “The spaces weren’t removed.”
Some abortion rights observers have noted that the plain text of the amendment, as viewed on a computer, clearly contains spaces between words, although with minimal spacing. Others note that state law only requires that the measurement be formatted as eight points. The state Supreme Court has yet to rule on the matter.
See for yourself. Here is part of the proposed constitutional change that the challengers called unacceptable:
Michigan’s nearly century-old anti-abortion law, currently in dispute but freshly relevant after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, prohibits the procedure except to “preserve the life” of the mother.
Mark Brewer, an election lawyer and former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, dismissed the spacing argument at WXYZ Detroit.
“They have no authority over the wording or spacing of the actual proposal. The only thing they have authority over is the form of the petition that they approved months ago,” he said of the canvassing board. “The words are all there. There are no typos. People can read it. It’s all about spacing and frankly it’s a printer’s function as to the spacing between words. We actually have constitutional amendments that contain typos.
Anti-choice group Citizens to Support MI Women and Children initially took issue with the amendment’s word spacing, calling it “incomprehensible” and saying that “more than three-quarters of a million voters – including the Governor and State Attorney General – signed a petition they did not read and could not understand.
But the Reproductive Freedom for All voting committee, the amendment’s sponsoring group, said the proposal’s language was easily understood. “More than 730,000 registered voters – a record number – have read, understood and signed the petition,” a spokesperson told the Detroit News.
Now the matter is before the state Supreme Court, which, at least for now, leans Democratic. Another measure that Republicans on the canvassing board also rejected on the basis of a technical challenge, to expand voting rights in the state, is also before the Supreme Court.
The state’s November ballot is expected to be finalized by Friday, and the state is holding its collective breath to see if a complaint from the right about some typography issues will prevent one of the most important issues for voters in the state. appear on the ballot. A spokesperson told WKAR that the judges were reviewing the records.
Either way, abortion will be a major issue in the November ballot: Tudor Dixon, the DeVos-funded GOP candidate to challenge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)’s re-election bid, said in an interview earlier this year that the incestuous rape of a 14-year-old girl provided the “perfect example” of a situation in which abortion should be banned.
“Chairman Daunt and Member Houskamp cited allegedly ‘missing’ spacing between the words of the petition — which they said resulted in typographical errors — as reasons for denying certification,” a group of county prosecutors said. in one of these memoirs. “But Michigan election law nowhere mentions mandatory “word spacing” on a circulated petition. And that certainly does not entitle the Board to dismiss a motion for insufficient spacing.
In another filing, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel compared the spacing of the Abortion Amendment to another notable legal document: the United States Constitution.