Michigan's three ballot proposals explained


The sun sets on City Hall in this 2019 file photo from downtown Mount Pleasant.

There are 12 days until the Nov. 8 election, and there are many topics for voters to learn about before casting a ballot.  

Michigan voters will decide the outcome of three ballot proposals. Here is what each proposal would change, along with some of the stances from community members:  

Proposal 22-1

If passed, Proposal 1 would change two things for state legislators and officials.

The first part would require legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general to disclose financial information. According to the ballot language, this would include "assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements and positions held in organizations except religious, social and political organizations."

This first change would take affect after 2023, if passed. According to a Jan. 8, 2018 article by the Center for Public Integrity, Michigan and Idaho are the only two states that do not have a financial ethics law like this.   

The second part of the ballot measure would change the way term limits apply to state legislators. Currently, state senators cannot serve more than two, four-year terms (eight years), according to Michigan.gov, and state representatives cannot serve more than three, two-year terms (six years). That means – if a legislator is elected and reelected multiple times in both chambers – they could serve up to 14 years between the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate. 

A 'Yes' vote on Proposal 1 would limit officials to a total of 12 years as a state legislator, but allow them to use that time in any combination of the senate or house. In other words, the proposal would not increase the length of terms, but would change the number of terms a legislator can hold in one body, as long as it's not over 12 years in one of them.  

Anthony Feig, a geography and environmental studies faculty member at Central Michigan University, is running as a Democrat to represent the state's 92nd District in the Michigan House of Representatives. He said he supports Proposal 1.  

"You have to follow the money," Feig said. "We want to make sure that elected officials are working for the people and not for themselves or their wallets." 

Feig said the proposal would allow officials to build more "institutional memory" in their positions, but the 12 year limit should be subject to change if necessary.      

Jerry Neyer is running against Feig as a Republican. He said Proposal 1 would be a step in the right direction.

"It still puts term limits in the end," Neyer said, "and then it also allows the legislature to develop those long term relationships that help move bills through in a more efficient manner than we are dealing with now."

Proposal 22-2

Proposal 2 would add provisions for voters during elections. According to Michigan.gov, the proposal would mean multiple changes, including: 

  • Recognize the "fundamental right to vote without harassing conduct" 
  • Voters can choose to verify their identity using either a photo ID or a signed statement
  • Military or overseas ballots will be counted if postmarked by Election Day 
  • Voters can fill out an application to automatically receive absentee ballots in elections 
  • Provide state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes and postage for absentee applications and ballots
  • Require that only election officials can conduct post-election audits
  • Allow nine days of early in-person voting
  • Allow donations to fund elections, but they must be disclosed 
  • Require that canvass boards certify results "based only on the official records of votes cast"    

Feig said he supports Proposal 2 because "voting should be easy and convenient for every eligible voter."

Neyer said he does not support the proposal.  

"It sounds good, but it will not require a voter ID," he said. "It won't be in the law. It won't be in the constitution. It lengthens out the days for voting ... when it's difficult to get full workers even for one day, to be able to manage something like that would be very difficult and very costly to townships and districts like that." 

Proposal 22-3

Proposal 3 would create a new right to "reproductive freedom" in Michigan's constitution, including the right to make decisions about pregnancy and abortion. 

If passed, it would also allow the state to regulate abortion after fetal viability, which means once a fetus is capable of living, the state could determine whether an abortion is plausible. However, it would not prohibit abortion if the patient's life, physical health or mental health is at risk, according to Bridge Michigan

A "yes" vote for Proposal 3 would create a new right to "reproductive freedom" into the Michigan Constitution, invaliding the 1931 abortion ban and potentially other existing regulations.

A "no" vote for Proposal 3 would leave abortion access up to elected officials in Lansing or judges, who have so far suspended the enforcement of the state’s 91-year-old ban under rulings that abortion opponents are appealing to higher courts. 

Lauren Hull, president of the CMU College Democrats, said she supports Proposal 3. 

"I am very, deeply uncomfortable with this idea of the government being able to control the bodies – and make intimate personal decisions  – for half of its population," Hull said. 

Hull said she worries that, if Proposal 3 does not pass, civil liberties like privacy, bodily autonomy and emergency healthcare could be at risk for women.   

Neyer said he is against Proposal 3.

"It sounds good on the surface, but I'm pro-life, so I'm against this right off the bat," he said. "It doesn't give any parental control to the parents that actually will take it out of their hands if they're underaged or somebody under 18 can go get an abortion or can seek other sex health services without the consent of their parents. ... It's too extreme for me."