Michigan officials are considering changes to the state's ballot referendum process that include more public disclosure of financing behind citizen initiatives, a ban on paid petition circulators, and an increase in signatures needed to qualify for ballot placement.
According to the Detroit News
, there were so many problems this year with initiatives that the courts were called on repeatedly to settle disputes over everything ranging from the font size on some ballot questions to deciding which petitions voters would be allowed to weigh in on.
The newspaper noted that taken all together, opponents and supporters of at least a half dozen measures that did make it on the ballot last week spent $150 million pushing their agendas.
The changes, some of which would have to be done by constitutional amendment, officials said, could help restore public confidence in the citizen initiative process and, perhaps, help reduce the amount of advertising and other promotional efforts paid for by undisclosed backers of ballot campaigns.
Among the concerns also being raised, according to the News, is how much power the Board of State Canvassers should have in determining which ballot proposals move forward. The newspaper reported that the state courts have already signaled to the legislature that the board's authority "needs to be clarified."
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