On September 13, a federal judge denied a motion to stop printing Michigan election ballots until signatures supporting marijuana legalization could be validated [1].

MILegalize, a marijuana legalization advocacy group, worked diligently to collect 354,000 signatures, well over the required 252,000 signatures, to get marijuana legalization on the ballot this November. The same day the group submitted their signatures, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that amended the Michigan Election law. The amendment signed by the Governor invalidated 200,000 of the signatures collected because they were collected outside of a 180-day window; a time-frame imposed by the new amendment [2, 3].

Governor Snyder defended the bill, which was almost universally criticized by Democrats [2]. Snyder stated, “[Establishing] reasonable time limits on when signatures can be collected helps ensure the issues that make the ballot are the ones that matter most to Michiganders [2].”

Jeff Hank, the chairman of MILegalize, asserts that the 180-day window is a serious handicap to grassroots groups that cannot afford to hire professional petition circulators and instead depend on volunteers to collect signatures [2]. One petitioner questioned how the new law will ensure issues important to Michiganders make the ballot when the amendment had the opposite effect in this case, and instead silenced 354,000 citizens of Michigan [1].

Stay tuned to Rights First Law for more on this and other legal news.

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