Senate Democrats: ‘Petition gatherers should not be lying to the public’

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Democrats today responded to the prevalent reports of petition circulators using shady tactics to promote their cause by introducing a package of bills to ensure voters are not deceived into signing onto ballot proposals they otherwise would not support.

“Ballot proposals are critical for citizens to have a say in how our democracy operates, but the process is sullied when bad actors use deception as a tool to obtain signatures,” Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), who led the legislative package, said. “Petition gatherers should not be lying to the public to promote their cause.”

This bill package follows Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel responding to an increase in complaints of deceptive petition circulation, including people who were told by circulators that the petition was about one topic while the actual printed content was completely different from what was described.

“No Michigan citizen should be lied to or misled when asked to support policies that will impact them and their families,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “These bills would bring needed reforms to protect voters and our democracy by making clearly unethical acts illegal. I am grateful to the legislators for introducing this package of bills.”

The five-bill package includes:

In September, Attorney General Nessel launched an investigation into allegations that the Unlock Michigan campaign engaged in criminal activity during petition gathering, including coaching circulators to knowingly give false information to voters about the proposal.

Elements of this legislation passed in the House nearly unanimously last session with overwhelming bipartisan support but were not taken up by the Senate.

“We cannot allow petition circulations to be circumvented by those who seek to undermine confidence in our electoral processes,” Sen. Hertel said. “We must hold individuals and organizations accountable when they misrepresent the issues they are pushing. This legislative package aims to do just that.”

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