Bills would crack down on lying petition circulators

Petition circulators can lie to you to get your signature here in Michigan. A group of state lawmakers wants to change that.

Michigan State Capitol

Michigan State Capitol building.

Bills at the state Capitol would crack down on petition circulators who lie to get people to sign.

It’s important to read petitions before you sign them. That’s because petition circulators in Michigan can lie to you about what is on any given initiative. But, if you sign it, your signature counts if you are a legal voter – even if you later find out you signed something you don’t believe in.

MichMash hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth speak with state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) about a package of bills aimed at transparency and honesty.

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The bills in the state Senate seek to not only prevent petition signature gatherers from lying, but also allow voters to take back their signatures if they are lied to, among other things.

“I know it’s shocking that people in politics might lie to you,” says Moss, who is sponsoring part of the legislation. “But time and time again petition circulators are misrepresenting the contents of their petitions.”

Moss says cites the example of a petition to create a part-time Legislature. One of his colleagues was asked to sign a petition that the circulator claimed was designed to eliminate lifetime health care and a pension for members of the state Legislature. House and Senate members do not have lifetime health care or a pension.

Related: Michigan’s Petition Initiative Process Is A Mess

“That just goes to show you that there are people who will deceive in order to get you to sign on to their petition. And we’ve seen it in almost every ballot proposal that’s come out,” Moss says.

Moss has been trying to get bills like these passed for years, and it’s unclear given the current nature of politics in 2022 how far these bills will get now.

“This should win bipartisan praise, but we’re in a different, more hyper-partisan era. And so, it’s a little bit more challenging to get these moving.”

More from MichMash:

Three initiatives could start gathering signatures soon

Michigan’s Petition Initiative Process Is A Mess

Whitmer’s budget turns heads in election year

Political storylines to watch this year in Michigan

The Biggest Political Blunders of 2021 in Michigan

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  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.