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Michigan Proposals 1 and 2 passed handily by voters Tuesday

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Proposals 1 and 2 would change the rules for term limits, add financial disclosure requirements for public officials and allow early in-person voting in Michigan if passed. (Bridge photo)
  • Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 1, which changed term limits and required financial disclosure for public officials 
  • Proposal 2, allowing early in-person voting among other changes, also won big
  • The campaigns behind both proposals declared victory as results trickled in

LANSING — Michigan voters handily approved ballot measures Tuesday that changed the state's term-limits law, required financial disclosure of public officials and allowed early in-person voting.

Proposal 1, which changed Michigan term-limit laws and imposes financial disclosure requirements on public officials, had 65.5 percent of the votes in favor, with more than three-quarters of statewide votes counted. 

Proposal 2, which allows early in-person voting among other changes, had 58.6 percent of the vote with 41.4 percent opposing.

Promote the Vote, the coalition behind Proposal 2, declared victory after 1 a.m. Wednesday.

“Michigan voters clearly support ensuring every voice is heard and every vote is counted in every election no matter what political party or candidate we support, where we live or what we look like,” said Micheal Davis, executive director of the group.

Proposal 2 will now amend the state constitution to allow nine days of early voting, permit private funds for election administration and require state-funded absentee ballot boxes, among other things. It will also continue to allow registered voters to vote without an ID as long as they sign an affidavit.

The initiative makes Michigan one of two dozen states to allow early in-person voting and one of 20 states to require the state to cover postage costs for absentee ballots and pay for ballot drop boxes for every 15,000 voters in a municipality.

The proposal also requires the state to spend more on administering elections, including approximately $2.1 million on absentee ballot drop boxes and $4.8 million on postage costs on 6 million absentee ballots, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.

Local clerks will shoulder additional early in-person voting costs under the proposal, but some $16 million in federal election funding could be used to offset that cost, the analysis says. Still, some clerks expressed concerns that extra staffing for early in-person voting could be pricey.

Supporters of the proposal say the initiative makes voting more convenient. Voters Not Politicians, part of the campaign to support Proposal 2, knocked on 125,000 doors and received positive feedback from voters, said Nancy Wang, executive director of the group.

Wang told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday night the campaign was “feeling good” about its lead in early results and reflected on the work its volunteers had done. 

“That’s what we are seeing in return,” Wang said. “We are just excited for the results to come in and for the proposal to pass.

Opponents — mostly Republicans — argued the proposal would lead to abuse, citing security and cost concerns. Republicans have long opposed expansion of absentee voting and advocated for rules that would tighten voting requirements.

Proposal 1

Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, the coalition that spearheaded Proposal 1, declared victory Tuesday night, issuing a statement touting bipartisan support for the proposal. 

“Proposal 1’s passage is a victory for every single Michigander,” said Rich Studley and Mark Gaffney, co-chairs for the coalition. “Our next step is ensuring that the legislature follows the letter and spirit of the amendments.”

Proposal 1 applies a flat 12-year cap on a lawmaker’s tenure in the Legislature, regardless of which chamber they serve in. It also imposes new financial disclosure requirements for the governor, secretary of state, attorney general and all lawmakers. 

Currently, Michigan lawmakers can serve up to six years in the House and eight in the Senate. Under the proposal that passed, a House Representative’s tenure in the same chamber could double. 

Proponents of Proposal 1 said that allowing lawmakers to serve more time in a single chamber would allow them to develop more expertise, rather than forcing them to seek office in a second chamber just as they gain solid experience in the first.  

Proposal 1's passage now allows more than 300 current and former lawmakers — some of whom are already termed out — to run for office again, according to a Gongwer analysis.

The proposal also applies personal financial disclosure rules to state lawmakers and some statewide officials, including the governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Under the initiative, they must disclose assets, sources of all incomes, description of liabilities, positions held outside their elected office and payments and gifts from lobbyists, among others.

Prop 1 proponents said the financial disclosure requirements would improve transparency among public officials, including when they vote or promote issues in which they may have a personal or professional interest. 

Opponents of Prop 1, including Patrick Anderson, who helped draft the 1992 term limits law, argued the proposal would create more career politicians and allow them to serve longer in one chamber. 

Anderson told Bridge Michigan he believes voters who supported the initiative were “misled” into voting yes, saying the proposal would “weaken term limits.”

He also pointed out that officials would not have to disclose their personal financial information until April 2024, according to the proposal language.

“I fear the voters are going to wake up tomorrow and be very unhappy when they learn that they doubled their legislators’ time in office and did not get the financial disclosure they thought they were voting for,” Anderson said. 

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